Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is the best conducting I have heard from Gustav Leonhardt in recent memory. The playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is polished, nuanced, and spirited. The engineering is lifelike and gimmick-free, with the acoustics of St. Giles Cripplegate adding to the ideal sonic ambience created by Philips, spacious but focused. The result is another exhilarating Rameau CD arriving on the heels of the Christie/Arts Florissants disc coupling Pygmalion and Nélée et Myrthis.
I would rate this with another Philips CD as the best CDs available of Rameau's orchestral music. That disc is the Brüggen/Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century recording of the suites from the tragédies-lyriques Les
Boréades and Dardanus (420 240-2), where Briiggen conducts a period orchestra of forty to dramatic effect. Here Leonhardt contents himself with half as many musicians, with 5-4-3-2-1 strings and pairs of flutes, oboes, bassoons and horns, plus harpsichord continuo. While nothing here matches the real fury evoked by Briiggen and company, I marginally prefer this disc for its extraordinary attention to detail in the delineation of its very wide-ranging movements, a rustic Air following a courtly Menuet with equal character. Even the Overture shifts within moments from the terraced dynamics of fanfare to string tirades and tremolandi to lyrical declamation by unaccompanied oboes with fluidity and conviction.
This is quite late Rameau, the comédie-lyrique having been mounted in 1760, four years before his death, though Rameau seems to have worked on the score three or four years earlier. The production was judged a failure, apparently on the basis of an inept and anonymous libretto. Without its subsequent textual ballast, the music in this CD, anything but a failure, soars in the hands of Leonhardt and his superb musicians and technicians.
-- Edward Strickland, FANFARE Read less
Works on This Recording
Les Paladins: Suite by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Date of Recording: 01/1991
Venue: St Giles Cripplegate, London
Length: 63 Minutes 45 Secs.
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