Comédie et Tragédie Vol 2
Vol 1 of Chandos’s ‘Comédie et Tragédie’ series contained well-known pieces by Lully, Marais and Rebel. The music here is less familiar, as Julie Anne Sadie suggested might turn out to be the case in her review (11/15). But, as it happens, the complete Scylla et Glaucus was a recent Editor’s Choice (Alpha, 2/16). The suite recorded here follows the sequence of the opera, from the French overture to the final ‘Symphony to depict the baying of the monsters’. In between are the dances – among them a stately Sarabande and Loure, and a flowing Gigue – and various instrumental airs. Leclair’s orchestration is splendidly varied, the martial sound of trumpets and timpani offset by the cool wash of flutes and some virtuoso violin-writing. I particularly liked Tempesta di Mare’s vigorous, spiky strings in the ‘Air des silvains’ and the ‘Premier air de démons’, the former sounding perfectly well without the tambourine added in the opera set.
The 10 numbers of the Charpentier are over in 12 minutes. Le malade imaginaire marked the end of his short-lived collaboration with Molière who, taking the role of Le Malade himself, collapsed at the fourth performance and died shortly afterwards. Tempesta di Mare’s solo strings in the ‘Premier air des Mores’ give an idea of how the music would have sounded originally; elsewhere the sound is almost lush, with a theorbo to add zing to the bass-line. Like the Leclair, the suite from Rameau’s Les fêtes de Polymnie plays for 30 minutes. And, likewise, a fine recent recording of the complete work appeared recently (Glossa, 4/15). There’s a strikingly dissonant opening to the Overture; the pieces range from a busy ‘Descente’ in less than 30 seconds to a brisk Chaconne at nearly five minutes. Delightful music, delightfully played.