Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leclair - Scylla et Glaucus - Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists







John Eliot Gardiner has proved himself a doughty champion of the later French Baroque, cultivating credible performing methods and unearthing undeservedly neglected repertoire.

Howard CrookConsidered worthy of a Penguin Guide Rosette on its original release over seventeen years ago, this recording of Jean-Marie Leclair's only opera is  standing up to the test of time. No doubt a newer recording could be made to sound more "authentic" -- but not by much. Gardiner, who did some minor reconstruction work on the score, conducted a fine performance, lush yet tight at the same time. And the singing remains admirable: Donna Brown, Rachel Yakar, and Howard Crook are all thrilling. Crook, in particular, as Glaucus, the only male part, is notably outstanding. Crook is not a haut-contre tenor but rather, simply, a high lyric tenor, and the distinction is important in this opera. Leclair included no role for a bass or baritone (thus limiting his vocal palette); Crook's voice is the lowest in the recording. It is possible that this is Crook's finest recorded performance.

"Scylla and Glaucus" had a barely-respectable run of seventeen performances upon its premiere in 1746 then sank from view. It's a little hard to understand why. This is a tragedie-lyrique full of wonderful writing, noble sentiments, joy, and--ultimately--sadness. The mythological story of the young lovers doomed by a witch-goddess is a good framework for an opera.


ape, scans

1 comment:

  1. I have this one. Great choice Otto. Keep up the wonderful posts. :-)


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