It's a rare treat to hear instrumental music of any era that's invested with such tightly packed, colorfully expressive drama, portrayed with just enough instrumental volume and weight that the result is neither undernourished nor overblown. Although Handel usually gets the credit as the numero uno Baroque theatrical master, this disc goes a long way to show that he had serious competition across the Channel from his almost exact contemporary Jean-Philippe Rameau. Frans Brüggen and his Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, which behind Quebec's Les Violons du Roy is one of the world's finest interpreters of repertoire from this period, gives us two "suites" chosen from the instrumental sections of the tragic opera ZoroastreRead more and the pastorale Naïs. In his stage music Rameau's two chief concerns were to go as far as possible in the scoring to depict the action, and never to be boring. For the former, he allied pure ingenuity with optimal use of his compositional bag of tricks, combining surprising harmonies – "les libertés harmoniques" – and key changes with startling dissonances, prodigiously attractive melodies, and lovely "impressionistic" scene-painting effects. This is really great stuff, and although we don't get the complete works here, the sheer impact of Rameau's orchestral craft (and craftiness) almost tells the stories without need of texts. Okay, that's going a bit far (contrary to the hyperbolic claims in the liner notes), but nevertheless, Brüggen and his able forces do keep us close to the edge of our seats wondering what will happen next, while the multi-colored instrumental timbres, volatile dynamic effects, and unfaltering pacing do the rest. The sound is a bit cluttered – that is, inner detail is sketchy and balances favor the higher-register parts – but overall we get a listening perspective that places us in ideal proximity to the action, helping to fulfill Rameau's second aim – never to be boring.
Attention Percussion Fans!December 1, 2013By Charles Marsteller (San Francisco, CA)See All My Reviews"If you like the Timpani, Rameau's 1749 Suite is the one for you! Never has a Timpanist been able to show their stuff more than with this wonderful piece by Rameau."Report Abuse