Lully: Les Divertissements de Versailles / Christie, Agnew, Daneman

Release Date: 6/11/2002
Label: Erato
Catalog Number: 44655
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
"The Best of Lully" probably isn't quite right, but this CD certainly shows the quintessential French Baroque composer at his most affable, dramatic, short-winded, and inventive. All of the music here was composed for the amusement of Louis XIV--you can almost see the flowing powdered wigs and painted-on beauty marks. Lully's formality and French Baroque mannerisms can tire the ear after a while, and I've discovered that listening to this 78 minutes all at once is not a good idea. But having said that, it's pretty gorgeous stuff, and pretty varied as well.

Of course we get our fill of nymphs and swains, shepherds and shepherdesses; and needless to say, everyone's mythological. But the levity of music from George Dandin, one of Lully's comedies, is very different from Armide's or Roland's. In fact, it's in the darker moments where we realize that psychological insights are not absent despite the frou-frou trappings. The duet between Armide and Renaud is fraught with passion and it's nicely underlined throughout by the subtle, commenting orchestra, which in Lully takes precedence over the voice for the most part. The excerpts from Isis are wonderful, particularly the justly famous "Shivering" chorus, which is witty as well as handsome.

The performances are faultless. Paul Agnew's haute-contre remains one of the French Baroque's joys, and here another, named Cyril Auvity, with an even lighter voice (can these people be heard in an opera house?) is equally impressive. Sophie Daneman is fine as ever, and Rinat Shaham, as Armide (in one of the excerpts--the role changes hands later) is potent and vengeful. Olivier Lallouette's Roland is imposing despite how essentially light his bass voice is. (He's sort of an haute-contre in bass clothing and register). As always, William Christie and his instrumental and choral forces are superb, and Erato has recorded it all beautifully. But can anyone tell me why excerpts from the same opera are not presented consecutively? Why are the Armide bits tracks 5 and 14 and the George Dandin highlights 4 and 9? Highly recommended anyway, especially for those wanting a dip into Lully rather than an entire operatic submersion.
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
1. Psyché, LWV 45: Prélude pour les trompettes by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1671 ; France
2. Psyché, LWV 45: Chantons les plaisirs charmants by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1671 ; France
3. L'amour médecin, LWV 29: Quittons notre vaine querelle by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Sophie Daneman (Soprano), Rinat Shaham (Soprano), Cyril Auvity (Countertenor)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1665 ; France
4. George Dandin, LWV 38: Chantons tous de l'Amour by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Cyril Auvity (Countertenor), François Bazola (Bass), Isabelle Obadia (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1668 ; France
5. Armide, LWV 71: Enfin il est en ma puissance by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Rinat Shaham (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: 1686 ; France
6. La princess d'Elide, LWV 22: Chère Climène, dis-moi by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Emmanuelle Halimi (Soprano), Isabelle Obadia (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1664 ; France
7. Isis, LWV 54: Je vous aime... Je ne puis vous quitter by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Cyril Auvity (Countertenor), Boris Grappe (Bass), Sophie Daneman (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1677 ; France
8. Isis, LWV 54: Aimez, profitez du temps by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Isabelle Obadia (Soprano), Emmanuelle Halimi (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1677 ; France
9. George Dandin, LWV 38: Laisse-nous en repos, Philène! by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Isabelle Obadia (Soprano), Emmanuelle Halimi (Soprano), Laurent Slaars (Tenor), Cyril Auvity (Countertenor)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1668 ; France
10. Isis, LWV 54: Scène du froid by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Sophie Daneman (Soprano), Paul Agnew (Countertenor)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: 1677 ; France
11. Isis, LWV 54: Scène des forges by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Sophie Daneman (Soprano), Paul Agnew (Countertenor)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1677 ; France
12. Les muses, LWV 32: Trop indiscret Amour by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Sophie Daneman (Soprano)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1666 ; France
13. Roland, LWV 65: Ah! j'attendrai longtemps...Je suis descendu dans la nuit du tombeau by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Olivier Lallouette (Bass)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: 1685 ; France
14. Armide, LWV 71: Armide, vous m'allez quitter... Les plaisirs ont choisi by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Performer: Rinat Shaham (Soprano), Cyril Auvity (Countertenor), Paul Agnew (Countertenor)
Conductor: William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque
Written: 1686 ; France
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