Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rameau - Complete Cantatas – Cooper, New Chamber Opera Ensemble







The cantata was a highly successful genre in the early 18th century. The French cantata, which should not be confused with the Italian or the German cantata, was "invented" in 1706 by the poet Jean-Baptiste Rousseau and soon taken up by many famous composers of the day, such as Montéclair, Campra, and Clérambault. Cantatas were Rameau's first contact with dramatic music. The modest forces the cantata required meant it was a genre within the reach of a composer who was still unknown. Musicologists can only guess at the dates of Rameau's six surviving cantatas, and the names of the librettists are unknown.

 Title page of the Treatise on Harmony by Rameau Rameau's music is characterized by the exceptional technical knowledge of a composer who wanted above all to be renowned as a theorist of the art. Nevertheless, it is not solely addressed to the intelligence, and Rameau himself claimed, "I try to conceal art with art." The paradox of this music was that it was new, using techniques never known before, but it took place within the framework of old-fashioned forms. Rameau appeared revolutionary to the Lullyistes, disturbed by the complex harmony of his music; and reactionary to the "philosophes," who only paid attention to its content and who either would not or could not listen to the sound it made.

"...The vocal soloists...bring attractive timbres, stylish ornamentation and a necessary depth of feeling to the music, and one could not want livelier or more beautiful playing from the instrumental ensemble..."--New York Times


flac, scans


  1. Otto, thanks for this interesting post (and for full scans).

  2. Thanks very much for this, Otto!



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