Rameau: Dardanus, orchestral suite (CD review)

Also, Le Temple de la Glorire, instrumental music. Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Tafelmusik Media TMK1012CD.

Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) is the eighteenth-century French composer and musical theorist who took up music late in life and turned the operatic world upside down with his then-revolutionary ideas. Some critics greeted his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, with scepticism, but they came eventually to accept it. By the time the two operas represented on this disc--Dardanus and Le Temple de la Glorire--rolled around, the composer had well established his reputation.

What we have on the present album are not the complete operas, of course, but a selection of instrumental music from the operas, suites if you will, compiled by conductor Jeanne Lamon for her Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. It represented the first time Ms. Lamon and Tafelmusik had recorded music of the French baroque period.

The individual pieces on the program comprise overtures, airs, minuets, gigues, gavottes, and the like, and they represent a fair sampling of Rameau’s many varied moods and styles. Needless to say, Tafelmusik, playing on period instruments and in historical style, perform them with the ensemble’s usual efficiency, refinement, and precision. More important, Tafelmusik play with verve; that is, their enthusiasm always shows, making these works more than a collection of museum pieces but brilliant, vibrant music that comes alive for the listener.

I have no idea if Ms. Lamon’s switch some years ago from Sony Classical to CBC Records (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and then more recently to their own label benefited Tafelmusik in terms of distribution and monetary reward; I know the big record labels had to drop a lot of their artists for financial reasons. I also know the switch benefitted the listener because Ms. Lamon and Tafelmusik’s recordings for CBC and now Tafelmusik Media have been consistently good.

The music, originally recorded by CBC in 2001 and re-released here on Tafelmusik Media, sounds as good as ever. The sonics remain crisp, open, clean, and entirely natural, set against the backdrop of an entirely lifelike acoustic. Indeed, the quality of the recording rivals my longtime favorite Rameau recording, Hippolyte et Aricie with La Petite Bande on EMI Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.  It’s that good.


JJP
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:


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Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

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Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa