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BBC Music Magazine (05/2020)
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Versailles Spectacle

Code-barres / Barcode : 3770011431299

Appréciation d'ensemble / Overall evaluation :

Reviewer: Christopher Cook

Monteverdi is saluted as the father of Western opera, but who grandfathered this ‘ exotic and irrational entertainment '? In this Iive recording from Versailles, Raphaël Pichon argues that the idea of music drama was planted in the extravagant musical interludes staged by the Medicis in Florence to celebrate their own power and dynastic ambitions. To illustrate this, Stravaganza d’Amore is a re-imagining of four of these interludes culled from scores by composers such as Caccini, Peri, Malvezzii, Cavalieri and, of course, Monteverdi himself


Pichon’s instrumental ensemble and choir Pygmalion do him proud in stories that feature all the usual suspects of Renaissance music Apollo, Orfeo and mortal lovers - in search of a good time. From the outset with Malvezzis O fortnato giorno, the Pygmalion singers serve up a rich feast of polyphony; their full rounded tone and evident commitment is matched by a cast of young soloists. Lucile Richardot taps into deep emotions in Peri’s death of Eurydice and the three tenors are equally touching in Monteverdi’s Lamento della Ninfa.


If only the camera work was as stylish. There are awkward shots of soloists half masked by their conductor, and there is no visual sense of the relationship between the players and the choir. Its unfortunate, too, that the splendeur of the Gallerie de Glaces at Versailles is scarcely to be seen: Le Brun’s painted ceiling is penumbral and despite the chandeliers we mostly see this concert through a glass darkly.

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