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Rameau: Pygmalion, Nélée Et Myrthis / Christie


Release Date: 08/12/2008 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord Catalog #: 1951381   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès MellonDonatienne Michel-DansacSandrine PiauHoward Crook,   ... 
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Pygmalion is, perhaps, Rameau's most consistently alluring ac/c de ballet whose overture, at least, was greatly admired in the composer's lifetime. There have been three earlier commercial recordings of which only the most recent, on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, is currently available. Pygmalion was Rameau's second ac/c de ballet and it contains affecting and vigorous music in the composer's richest vein. The action takes place in Pygmalion's studio. Captivated by the appearance of the statue he has just completed, Pygmalion, legendary King of Cyprus, falls in love with it. His companion, Céphise, is less enamoured of it and, when she sees the extent to which her lover has become obsessed by his creation, decides to leave him to it; that Read more is to say she makes no farther appearance in this version of the story. Aphrodite, not so named here, brings the statue to life, whereupon it reciprocates Pygmalion's affection. In the final scene Love's triumph is celebrated with a virtuoso ariette—one of Rameau's many enchanting salutes to the Italianate aria—and a high-spirited "Rondeau Contredanse".

The high-tenor role of Pygmalion is a demanding one and few singers succeed in projecting it without a hint of strain. One who did manage it, and at the higher present-day pitch at that, was Eric Marion, who took the part in the oldest of the four versions (Archiv, 7/63). Howard Crook in this new release is equally comfortable in the highest reaches of the tessitura, conveying his passionate responses to the statue with finely controlled, often touching declamation. The remainder of the small cast is strong, too, with the soprano Agnes Mellon as an appropriately exasperated Céphise, Sandrine Piau, whose singing in Christie's Les Indes ga/an/es (2/92) had such appeal, as L'Amour, and a relative newcomer to Les Arts Florissants, Donatienne Michel-Dansac as the statue. Her voice has a clarity, and an innocence which effectively complements her newly acquired mortal status. The instrumentalists of Les Arts Florissants do Rameau's richly textured score considerable justice, my particular enjoyment in this case being the care with which Christie has sought a transparent internal balance. This is noticeable above all, of course, in the fine over ture and in the dances. Only the off-stage choir, to my ears, leaves a little to be desired, but it acquits itself well in the single remaining number where it is required.

The other acte de ballet here is new to the archives of commercially recorded music. Nélée et Myrthis was perhaps, as Girdlestone and others have suggested, intended as an entrée to an opéraballet which was never completed. Rameau had originally called the piece Les Beaux Jours de l'Ansour. Myrthis, entrée which strongly suggests that he had once planned more to follow. But in spite of an orchestral chaconne of impressive dimensions, some colourful scoring for woodwind, trumpets, timpani and strings, and much alluring vocal writing, the piece falls well short of Pygmalion. It is another love story set this time at the Argive Games. Nélée, who has carried off the Victor Ludorum, is now in a mood for a little lighthearted mischief. He leads his girlfriend Myrthis to believe that he is attracted to her friend, Corinne. But just as the story is on the point of becoming tasteless the lovers are reunited and a happy ending is ensured.

The two sopranos Agnes Mellon and Francoise Semellaz are excellent and their very different sounding voices make for plenty of character definition. The sportf Nélée is well sung by Jérôme Corréas though perhaps he just fails to convey that self-confidence and lustre that we might expect from his recently demonstrated athletic prowess. As in Pygmalion the orchestral playing is sharply focused and lively though occasional passages of upper string playing lack unanimity of sound.

To sum up, a considerable success. Lovers of Rameau's music will be delighted to add a new title to their shelves and with performances of this calibre they should have little to complain about. The recorded sound is excellent though at a somewhat lower level than usual, requiring the listener to turn the volume control a notch or two upwards. Full texts in French and English and a helpful note by Sylvie Bouissou.

-- Gramophone [7/1992]
reviewing the original release of this title
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pygmalion: Overture by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 49 Secs. 
2.
Pygmalion: De mes maux à jamais cet aveu me délivre by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Sandrine Piau (Soprano),
Howard Crook (Tenor)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
3.
Pygmalion: Du pouvoir de l'Amour by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Agnès Mellon (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
4.
Pygmalion: Les Grâces instruisent la Statue by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Howard Crook (Tenor), Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Agnès Mellon (Soprano),
Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 6 Secs. 
5.
Pygmalion: Air gay by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Agnès Mellon (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
6.
Pygmalion: L'Amour triomphe by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 52 Secs. 
7.
Pygmalion: Pantomimes no 1 & 2 by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor), Agnès Mellon (Soprano),
Sandrine Piau (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 24 Secs. 
8.
Pygmalion: Règne, Amour by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor),
Agnès Mellon (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 59 Secs. 
9.
Pygmalion: Air gracieux by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Sandrine Piau (Soprano), Howard Crook (Tenor), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Agnès Mellon (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1748; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
10.
Nélée et Myrthis: Prélude by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
11.
Nélée et Myrthis: Jouissons de la liberté by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Françoise Semellaz (Soprano), Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Agnès Mellon (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 1 Minutes 20 Secs. 
12.
Nélée et Myrthis: Ah! pour vivre heureux sans aimer by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Françoise Semellaz (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 1 Minutes 36 Secs. 
13.
Nélée et Myrthis: Tout retentit dans ce séjour by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Françoise Semellaz (Soprano),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
14.
Nélée et Myrthis: Noble fierté, digne partage by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Françoise Semellaz (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
15.
Nélée et Myrthis: Théâtre des honneurs que m'offre la victoire by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Françoise Semellaz (Soprano),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
16.
Nélée et Myrthis: Quels divers mouvements m'agitent tour à tour? by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Françoise Semellaz (Soprano), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 2 Minutes 48 Secs. 
17.
Nélée et Myrthis: Muses, filles du ciel, dont les chants glorieux by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Françoise Semellaz (Soprano), Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
18.
Nélée et Myrthis: Faites une choix digne de vous by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Françoise Semellaz (Soprano), Jérôme Corréas (Bass), Agnès Mellon (Soprano),
Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 5 Minutes 28 Secs. 
19.
Nélée et Myrthis: C'en est fait, et je vais répondre by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Françoise Semellaz (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano),
Jérôme Corréas (Bass)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 3 Minutes 23 Secs. 
20.
Nélée et Myrthis: Amour, sois le prix de la gloire! by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Agnès Mellon (Soprano), Donatienne Michel-Dansac (Soprano), Jérôme Corréas (Bass),
Françoise Semellaz (Soprano)
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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