Une fête baroque, N. Dessay, A. S. von Otter, S. Degout, P. Petibon, T. Lehtipuu, P. Jaroussky, S. Piau, R. Villazón, Le Concert d'Astrée, E. Haïm
(released on March 13, 2012)
Virgin 730799 2 | 154'11"
Standout performances come from less expected places, like soprano Jaël Azzaretti in a high-flying avian duet with Alexis Kossenko on traverso in "Rossignols amoureux" or horn players with serious chops in the hunting aria "A la chasse," both from Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. Ann Hallenberg adds extensive embellishments throughout "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Handel's Rinaldo, extending the harmony until it almost sounds like Fauré. Patricia Petibon performs a nutty La Folie, from Platée, driven mad by the sound of a portable (a brief spoken introduction, in which a cellphone rings on stage, is at the beginning of the track), adds all sorts of crazy ornaments. Sandrine Piau is plangent of tone in a beautiful rendition of "Piangerò la sorte mia" from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, again with affecting additions to the melodic line on the reprise of the A section. The only drawbacks of the live format are the amount of applause captured in the tracks, a few audience noises, and the fact that Haïm's excessively fast tempo leaves mezzo-soprano Renata Pokupić behind in the dust in Nerone's "Come nube che fugge dal vento" from Handel's Agrippina. One can excuse the obligatory Hallelujah chorus, complete with audience participation, with Christmas having been just around the corner, but not the Pájaros Perdidos-style Latin salsafication of Purcell's Sound the Trumpet.
(Note Haïm's unorthodox conducting style and read the comments on
this post about her being fired from the Opéra de Paris)