“A history of the Requiem” takes the music-lover on a journey through the very varied history of the requiem. Presenting one work per century seemed to be just right for illustrating the evolution of this, one of the most significant musical forms in the history of music. The first part of the series, devoted to Ockeghem and Lassus, was awarded a ‘5’ by the prestigious magazine Goldberg, and here now is the second part, presenting the requiems of André Campra and Michael Haydn, recorded on period instruments. A worthy successor to Lully and an admitted model for Rameau, Campra gives us with his Requiem, an ideal gateway for entering into a musical world of unquestioned emotional depth. Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph, is one of the most remarkable composers of sacred music from the classical period. Though the reasons leading to the composition of this Requiem are still in part unclear, so quickly was it composed, it may at any rate be stated that it left a profound impression on Mozart who was present at its first performance, so striking are the parallels between the two requiems (the same text, the same techniques). The Laudantes Consort, in its large formation, as well as the soloists, combine the dynamics and the sensitivity indispensable for serving these two works.
The most significant composer for the French stage between Lully and Rameau, Campra was born in Aix-en-Provence in 1660. His father, an amateur violinist, provided him with his first music lessons, and while he was a slow learner at first, he did begin to show talent, and joined the choir of St. Sauveur in 1674. At one point he nearly lost his place in the choir when he was caught giving unauthorized performances in secular theaters on the side. In August of 1681 he became the music master at the church of Ste.
This two-CD album brings together the two earliest recordings by La Petite Bande. They were made in 1973 and feature landmarks in two important French forms of entertainment—comedie-ballet and opera-ballet. Performed in 1670 at Chambord, one of Louis XIV's grandest country retreats, Le bourgeois gentilhomme was the high water mark of Lully's collaboration with Moliere and was to be the last work of its kind on which the two worked together. Moliere developed the comedie-ballet from the fashionable court ballets, working the dances and music into the body of the play with unparalleled skill. Lully, himself a dancer, proved a gifted partner as the music for Le bourgeois gentilhomme reveals.
Is it fair to say that most born Frenchmen have considered themselves exceedingly fortunate in their nativity? Moi? I didn't enjoy such luck. Neither did Jean-Baptiste Lully, the favorite of Louis XIV and thus the tyrant of French music for thirty-four years. Lully was born in Florence in 1632, but carried to France as a youthful Ganymede; he entered the service of the Sun King in 1653 as a dancer, and he rose to a position of monopoly influence in Louis XIV's court despite his flagrant debauchery and libertine sexuality. Just as Louis declared, that 'he was the State,' Lully could well have said "French Music, it's me!"
André Campra's "Tancrède" is something of a "missing link", connecting the 17th century stage works of Jean-Baptiste Lully and his frustrated rival Marc-Antoine Charpentier with the late baroque works of Jean-Philippe Rameau. "Tancrède" was given its premiere in 1702 and was repeated again and again on the Paris stage. Even in the 1760's, when Rameau's "Les Boréades" had to be abandoned because of the death of the composer, it was Campra's "Tancrède" that the directors of the Paris Opéra chose to put back on stage because of its popularity.
A Baroque West Side Story, Tancrède tells of the absolute but impossible love between two young people brought together by their passion but separated by their origins. We are in the time of the Crusades: Tancredi is the champion of the Frankish army, and Clorinda the passionaria of the Saracen troops.
André Campra s’attelle à la composition de sa série de «petits motets» dès son arrivée à Paris en tant que maître de chapelle de la cathédrale Notre-Dame (1694-1700). Très vite ces compositions remportent un vif succès et l’on se presse à Notre-Dame pour les écouter Les motets de Campra sont fortement influencés par la musique italienne : raffinements harmoniques, charme de l’accompagnement, écriture brillante et contrastée… Ils sont aussi de la main d’un homme de théâtre : le texte sacré se met en scène. Campra sait tirer profit de l’effectif restreint du petit motet : airs, récits, duos, trios et ritournelles s’enchaînent comme à l’opéra ! Mais son éloquence n’est pas sans profondeur et ses grâces savent encore nous toucher.
Of Italian parentage, André Campra was probably the most successful successor to Jean-Baptiste Lully in the last years of the grand epoch of Louis maître de chapelle at Notre Dame Cathedral, a post that gave him a degree of protection against the usual court intrigues over who would succeed musical dictator Lully, and in 1697 he came out of the proverbial closet to begin composing the court ballet, beginning with his L’Europe galant . By 1720 he had obtained all of the usual prestigious posts but retreated back into composing sacred music as the French critics targeted him more frequently. This disc presents two of the later works of his long career, a Requiem written around 1725 or so and one of the grands motets , a setting of Psalm 125 for soloists, chorus, and small orchestra in the Lullian tradition.
Exemple emblématique du renouveau des Maîtrises en France au cours des années 80, Les Pages & les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles fêtent les 20 années de la direction musicale et pédagogique d’Olivier Schneebeli. Celui-ci a constitué, avec ce chœur réunissant de manière inédite voix d’enfants et voix d’adultes, dans la grande tradition de la Chapelle Royale de Versailles, un outil de valorisation unique du répertoire français des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Ce coffret exceptionnel convie l’auditeur à un itinéraire à travers les chefs-d’œuvre sacrés des compositeurs du « Grand Siècle », du règne d’Henri IV à la fin du règne de Louis XIV, et met en lumière, par de nombreux inédits, la naissance du genre musical emblématique de la Chapelle Royale : le grand motet.