Thursday, August 12, 2010

Clerambault - Cantatas, Suites - Gilbert,Goebel,Yakar



Here are two fine examples of an unduly neglected genre. The French cantata flowered at the beginning of the eighteenth century; by the middle of the century it was almost dead. The repertory is considerable; pre-eminent among its composers are Clérambault and Montéclair, along with Rameau (who wrote only a handful of cantatas); Bernier, Morin, Campra, Jacquet de  Guerre, Mouret and others produced examples. The French cantata bears to the Italian much the same relationship as French opera to Italian opera: the divisions between recitative and air are less clearcut, the instrumentation more varied, the weight given to the verbal texts more considerable. Clérambault's Orphée and Médée both belong to his first book of cantatas, published in 1710. They were among the most celebrated and oft-performed cantatas of their time, and deservedly so. Médée is the more dramatic and Italianate, and has as its climax a remarkable "Evocation", a sombre F minor movement with a sullen, jerky obbligato for the violin in its lowest register. Also unorthodox is the movement where the bass continuo instrument is silent and the bass line is in the violin part; this happens even more strikingly in Orphée, with the timbre of soprano, violin, flute and harpsichord in its upper register making a very pure and charming effect.

Louis-Nicolas ClérambaultThe style of these pieces is not easy for a singer, in particular, to find. She needs first a fluent enough technique to manage easily and clearly the elaborate ornamentation, without blurring its detail; second, a tone quality that is at the same time light and well defined; and third, a feeling for the particular expressive character of the music. Rachel Yakar answers most of these requirements pretty well, as she has shown in earlier performances of related repertory, on records and on the stage. Her ornamentation is beautifully formed, her expression properly touching. But the voice is too intense, too richly coloured by vibrato; a lighter, slenderer line would be preferable. There is admirable instrumental support, with a good deal of vitality (and on the whole reliable intonation) from the violin and much sensibilité from the flute. A pleasing record.--S.S.


flac, scans



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