Saturday, May 7, 2011

Charpentier, M-A - Le Malade Imaginaire – Marc Minkowski, Les Musiciens du Louvre







The music of Le malade imaginaire is contained in a prologue and three intermedes. For many years that of the first Intermede was thought to have been lost, notwithstanding a clue to its whereabouts provided in La musique a la Comedie Francaise by Jules Bonassies. An American musicologist, John S. Powell followed up the clue and found the missing music in the library of the Cornedie Francaise itself. This new recording, the first to offer virtually all of Charpentier's music, is based on Powell's rediscovery and on H. W. Hitchcock's edition of the remaining sections of the score. Few if any lovers of French baroque music, or particularly of music by this outstandingly gifted representative of it, will have cause for disappointment. Minkowski sensibly has opted for Charpentier's original version of 1673 just predating Lully's tiresome dictatureAn engraving from the 1682 Almanach Royal thought to be Charpentier. musicale, which subsequently obliged composers to pare down their instrumental and vocal forces. The vocal line-up is first rate with strong contributions from all eight soloists. Instrumental ensemble is not always tidy but it is variously affectingly tender and infectiously robust. Charpentier's orchestral palette is a colourful one with oboes, flutes, recorders and four-part string texture, as opposed to the customary fivepart writing of Lully. Additionally there are some surprising sound effects, notably in the percussion department where, in the third Intermede, the composer calls for apothecary's mortars, apparently cast in those days in a bell foundry! These ones are kindly lent by a Paris antiquarian. Beware of imitations. Castanets, drums and tambourines also make an appearance.
This is a most entertaining issue, affectionately realized and superbly recorded by Erato.


flac, scans

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