After having recommended a beautiful DVD version of Rameau's Les Boréades, it seems a good time to point out two recent remastered re-releases of classics in the history of Rameau recording. The remarkable rediscovery of Rameau's music has been due to two factors: the scholarly edition of the composer's complete works, which finally undid the misconceptions about just how advanced Rameau's orchestration was, timed perfectly with the advent of specialized performance ensembles interested in playing and, much more importantly, recording the music.
Available at Amazon:
Rameau, Overtures, Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset (remastered, October 9, 2007)
Rameau, Les Indes Galantes, Orchestra of the 18th Century, Frans Brüggen (remastered, 2006)
Universal has decided to reintroduce the Oiseau-Lyre label, a happy occasion for fans of historically informed performance, as its catalogue included many excellent recordings like this one of Christophe Rousset's take on the overtures of Jean-Philippe Rameau (yes, both Naïs and Zaïs are included). Rousset's crack ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, brings an extraordinary range of color and texture to this survey -- 17 tracks of nothing but overtures! The playing is crisp and the textures clear, without too much of the ultrafast approach sometimes criticized in Rousset's work. These are festive, colorful works, worthy of the same broad appreciation given to the works of Handel, who drew upon many of the same French influences in his overtures.
Likewise, Philips has remastered the Orchestra of the 18th Century's recording of the overture and dance music suite from Rameau's Les Indes Galantes. This is a vivid rendition, with conductor Frans Brüggen using percussion and wind combinations to draw out as many contrasts in style as possible. There is a reedy Musette en rondeau (track 5) not quickly forgotten, paired with a breathy, languid Air pour les amants et les amantes (track 6), for example. It is an approach that might not work in a live performance with dancers but is viscerally exciting on disc. Both discs, if you missed them the first time around, now have better sound and are priced competitively.
L'Oiseau-Lyre 475 9107 / Philips 438 946-2
Rameau, Overture to Les fêtes d'Hébé
Les Talens Lyriques, Christophe Rousset