Friday, May 24, 2024

Ramo’s Lyrical Foolishness

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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After a silence of 270 years, Achante and Cephise, a mature opera by Jean-Philippe Rameau, revealed to us by orchestra conductor Alexis Kosenko in the recording of Erato. At the same time, Unitel on video and Harmonia Mundi on audio publish this phenomenon platte, Directed by William Christie, Naxos announces DVD ofHippolyte et Aricie by Rafael Pichon. A chance to remember the lyrical audacity of the visionary composer.

To paraphrase dialogue writer Michel Audiard: “If genius is measured, Rameau will be a standard. He will be in Sevres. »Unlike Platé (1745), Achante and Cephise, a heroic pastoral of 1751 unheard of in 270 years, is not one of the greatest works in the history of lyrical art. But its rediscovery is no less fascinating.

Clarinets and horns

“Since the opening, it is hard to believe that it is the work of the eighteenthNS century,” Alexis Kosenko tells us. Jean-Claude Malgoire’s successor at the helm of the Grande Écurie and Chambre du Roy fought to revive this result. “As 2014, the year of Rameau, many performers wanted to engrave a large part of the works that had not yet been recorded, but Achante and Cephise passed through the cracks. Nevertheless, it is one of the first pieces of the first complete short story of Ramo that I have bought, and this opera struck me at once, for it has a somewhat crazy embellishment, the richest and most characteristic of Ramo, for the presence of the clarinets and the boldness of the use of trumpets. “

Yes, the 1751 clarinet, while Mozart, born in 1756, used this instrument only late in his work! As for the horns, Alexis Kosenko specified that Rameau discovered “that the trumpet plays in a very different way than it did in France, because four trumpeters had just arrived from Bohemia and were making unknown sounds”.

Kosenko found in the manuscript “Repentance” a few places where Ramo reconsidered his first decisions. “At that time trumpeters were performed by orchestras, often violinists who knew how to ‘sound the trumpet,’ but they were catching calls with a relatively primitive technique. When he saw the trumpeters from Bohemia descend, Rameau sprang a little, composing things that hardly transcended that his musician should do.” Before he changed his mind…

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In his recording, Kosenko returned to his original intentions. The young chef, who was only able to give the extracts during the year of Rameau, has made a name for himself ever since. He was able to establish links with the Baroque Music Center at Versailles and succeeded in convincing him that the project was worth creating.

Platé at Karl Lagerfeld

It is completely different from Platé, which became a symbolic act of Ramo’s genius. Platé It is the story of a frog, more precisely about a swamp nymph, ugly and naive, whom the gods laugh at by making him believe that Jupiter loves her. This ruse aims to appease, through sarcasm, the jealousy of Jupiter’s wife, Juno. History buffs will decipher the spelling of Louis XV (Jupiter) as he jumps on whatever moves. It is, more than that, a caustic allegory of the provincial bourgeoisie (Blaty who does not know “Where is he”), which is in the middle of the eighteenth century.NS century, they pride themselves on coming to Paris to meet the powerful.

On a larger scale, then, it is a timeless opera about arrogance, translatable to infinity, which Canadian director Robert Carson has not failed to do with his book. PlatéIt was taken over in December 2020 at the theater an der Vienna. Platé is no longer a frog here, but fifty rich and clumsy people (Dutch tenor Marcel Beckmann) who want to break into the world of fashion. The elected members of this circle dismiss her with contempt, and Jupiter takes on the features of Karl Lagerfeld. Everyone pushes each other off the collar, moves between mirrors and watches each other on TV, which is reflected in the mirror.

We commented at his 2014 premiere at the Opera Comique de Paris this show, a different look from Reference copy created by Laurent Pelly and Marc Minkowski. Recreates the Viennese cover by William Christie, read by the orchestra (Menuets in goût de vièle, beach 32) alone is worth a visit. For those who reject Carsen’s scenography, Harmonia Mundi publishes this Platé And a CD.

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music first

Before Rameau was reborn in the last quarter of a century, there was an eclipse. For Alexis Kossenko, “Ramo has struggled for two centuries with the idea that his librarians are bad. This is because after Quinault and Lully, practically no songwriter has found favor in the eyes of critics in France.”

He continues: Ramo in the circumstance did not help his case. “He wanted so much to advocate the superiority of music over text that he went so far as to boast, ‘I can make the Dutch newspaper use for music.’ The implication: ‘We don’t care about the text, the music can do anything.'” He paid for it for two centuries of time.”

it is in Platé That Rameau, for Alexis Kosseko, provided the most brilliant evidence for his theory. Ramo enjoyed proving the superiority of music over text PlatéThere are two arias de la Fole where Ramo manages to broadcast exactly the opposite of the lyrics. The famous song “Aux langueurs d’Apollon” is a sad and even funeral text set to music in a cheerful, cheerful and spicy way. There is another, less well-known tune, a little later, in which he places sad, tearful music over a happy script. Madness allows itself to reflect the meaning of words thanks to the forces of harmony. Through Madness, it is Rameau himself who spins himself and proves what he has to offer! “

Alexis Kosenko admits that the argumentAchante and Cephise “There is no most interesting.” He also realizes that managers and companies turn primarily to lyrical tragedies. ” With Achante and CephiseMake an envelope, we’re in the middle. We have an exciting excuse to celebrate the royal birthday. “

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As for the power of exclusivity in Ramo’s lyrical production, Alexis Kosenko sums it up as “amazing modernity”. We can listen to ‘Trio des Fates’Hippolyte and arisi, which is so improbable due to mods by chemistry that his contemporaries did not want to play it and which still wins your heart today. We can also talk about the beginning of the number 5NS did the Boris, devoid of melody, like disdain for Rousseau, who advocated the supremacy of melody over harmony and rhythm. “

The maestro sees Ramo’s lyrical work as a “laboratory” where the author pushes his research forward each time. “I am used to saying that Rameau is the first realist, the first impressionist and the first expressive. It is enough to fly over the infernal scenes to see how he can force the line and thus act like the first expressionist. Because no one in his time and for a long time will be able to break away from simple concepts (joy, sadness, arrogance) to be able to depict things of the order of the fugitive, impressionable, and imperceptible (moreover, with the meeqaatAchante and CephiseWe are spoiled.) “

Alexis Kosenko, as part of a working stay at the Baroque Music Center in Versailles, is already planning to record the first unpublished version of Zoroastrianism, then burns Paladins. The only thing that must inevitably be changed is to make the audio recording (noise, echo, too loud) in tune with artistic quality.

Achante and Cephise

Sabine DeVille, Cyril Dubois, David Witchack, Judith Van Wanroy, Les Ambassadors, La Grande Ecurie, Alexis Kosenko. Erato, pirate CD, 0190296693946.


Marcel Beckmann, Jeanine de Pique, Edwin Croisley-Mercer, Cyril Offitty, Marc Mauillon and Les Arts florissants. Harmonia Mundi, 2 CD, HAF 890 5349-50. Unitel, Blu-ray, 804804.

Hippolyte et Aricie

Bichon. Naxos DVD. It is due to be published in November.

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