Cedille’s L’Amant Anonyme Boosts the Legacy of Joseph Bologne
Cedille’s catalog is full of pieces written by accomplished, but often less-heralded, composers such as Leo Sowerby, Florence Price, Ernst Bacon, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Another composer whose work Cedille has long championed is one with whom the rest of the music world is now becoming familiar: Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745–1799).
Bologne was among the 18th century’s most extraordinary musical figures. He rose to fame among the European aristocracy as a virtuoso violinist, composer, and conductor. One of the greatest swordsmen of his day, Bologne led numerous military campaigns as a high-ranking officer. Bologne was born in Guadeloupe to George Bologne, his Caucasian French father, and Nanon, his enslaved African mother. When his father was unjustly accused of murder, the family fled to France to avoid the younger Bologne being sold into slavery. His remarkable life story is illustrated (taking some dramatic liberties, of course) in the recently released film, Chevalier.
Cedille has released multiple albums featuring his music including Rachel Barton Pine’s 1997 Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th & 19th centuries (updated and released in a new edition in 2022) and Patrice Michaels’ 1999 Songs of the Classical Age.
In February, Cedille released the Haymarket Opera Company’s world premiere recording of L’Amant Anonyme. Premiered in 1780 L’Amant Anonyme was the most successful of Bologne’s six operas and is the only one to survive to the present day. Based on a play by the composer’s patroness, Félicité de Genlis, a respected writer of the era, the work is an opéra comique in two acts composed in the then-popular style that mixed sung parts with spoken dialogue. A modern score was carefully prepared specially for Haymarket’s production and recording, taking hints and clues left in the only extant manuscript of the work.
Cedille founder and President (and album producer) James Ginsburg says:
From a historical perspective, this is probably the most important release in Cedille Records’ 34-year history.
From the album’s accompanying booklet essay, Silenced No More: Composer Joseph Bologne and the French Operatic Tradition by Marc Clague: “often called the ‘The Black Mozart,’ this nickname tells us less about Bologne than about the surprise of 21st-century listeners when they discover the quality, charm, passion, inventiveness, and sheer effectiveness of his unjustly neglected music.” This recording, and the resurgence of his oeuvre, aim to reframe the narrative and celebrate Bologne’s legacy and artistry based on its own merit.
Chicago a cappella, the innovative vocal ensemble praised for its “clarity, well-balanced tone, and deep emotional involvement” (Washington Post), presents Miracle of Miracles — Music for Hanukkah, a new recording aimed at unveiling the richer meaning of the Festival of Lights, with music that ranges from heartfelt prayers to jazzy and playful holiday favorites, showcasing the creativity and vitality of American Jewish musical traditions.
On episode of Classical Chicago, Cedille President Jim Ginsburg talks with Third Coast Percussion‘s David Skidmore about his experience recording Cedille’s latest release, Between Breaths. The works on the album explore aspects of meditation in sound, incorporate unconventional timbres and tones, invite listeners to lose themselves within a captivating sonic landscape.