Nouveau Monde – Patricia Petibon
With Christopher Columbus (yes, him from 1492) joining Harnoncourt, William Christie and Savall on the dedicatees’ list, Petibon’s new release explodes like an alt-folk concept album. As Basle’s La Cetra, plus certain South American obbligato instruments, Baroque and baroll behind the French soprano, it can get loud – José de Nebra’s opening zarzuela aria (1744) sounds like an attempt at all four Handel Coronation Anthems in less than six minutes while Petibon’s contribution mixes a tale of shipwrecked love with yelping early salsa-style vocalises. For contrast there’s a serene ‘Greensleeves’ and a wonderful, painfully impassioned (if exotically pronounced) ‘When I am laid in earth’. Then the mocking demons in Charpentier’s Médée and their grungy accompaniment sound like contemporaries of Purcell’s witches and sailors. Marcon’s band get a break of their own in further Charpentier before their whistles and thundersheets kick up the storm that nearly overwhelms the heroine in Les Indes galantes. We may be on the way to a ‘new world’ – Petibon’s booklet interview links up influences including Brazilian rock radio, Haneke’s Don Giovanni and Cortés’s Conquistadors – and we reach it eventually at Purcell’s ‘Fairest isle’, but there’s plenty of well-acted heartbreak on the way.
Like her equally Spanish-tinged ‘Melancolia’ album (1/12) – but with totally other colours – ‘Nouveau monde’ is a tightly thought-through and arranged and compelling programme, a tour de force for its performer/compiler, most atmospherically recorded. Compulsive, repeatable listening.