The World of Lully
- CDR 90000 043
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The movie that sparked interest in French baroque music, 1991's Tous les matins du monde, centered on viol virtuoso Marin Marais and his teacher Sainte-Colombe. But music in the age of Louis XIV actually revolved around the formidable composer and impresario Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), the dominant star in the Sun King's musical galaxy.
On this CD, the Chicago Baroque Ensemble and soprano Patrice Michaels take listeners beyond the viol repertoire popularized by the French film. Here, on a single CD, are solo and chamber arrangements of Lully's vocal and instrumental theater music. Intimate arrangements such as these were widely performed in salons during Lully's lifetime and long thereafter.
For the sumptuous court at Versailles, Lully created music that would "soothe the ear and delight the senses . . . elegant, clear, and well-ordered" (Joseph Machlis, The Enjoyment of Music). Lully combined large baroque gestures with the minute refinement of the French "precieux" style, writes John Mark Rozendaal, the Chicago Baroque Ensemble's artistic director. "Perhaps it is this uncommon interplay between intimate and corporate expression that makes Lully's opera music so satisfying in chamber music renditions," Rozendaal says.
The two Lully divertissements on the recording, arranged by the Chicago Baroque Ensemble, comprise song an dance sequences from Alceste, Amadis, Armide, Ballet d"alcidiane, Ballet de l'amour malade, Ballet Des Plaisirs, Persée, and Phaeton.
The Galliarde from Trios pour le coucher du roi shows Lully working in the Italianate trio sonata format. La Plainte de Cloris, with words by Molière, is part of Lully's Le Grand Divertissement Royal de Versailles, a self-contained royal entertainment. Armide, Lully's last completed opera, contains some of his most renowned music.
Lully protégés Marais (1656-1728) and Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747) each wrote a "Tombeau," a heartfelt musical tribute, to Lully. (Lully had, in a sense, "shot himself in the foot": He accidentally stabbed his own foot with the long conducting stick he used to beat time and died from an infection.)
Jean-Henri d'Anglebert, a harpsichord virtuoso who was present at Lully's original productions, wrote arrangements of Lully's works. D'Anglebert's efforts show a mastery of counterpoint, ornamentation, and the harpsichord idiom.