«Daucé has assembled a huge cast of musicians, many have been a part of his recorded projects since the first one in 2010 Charpentier O Maria! Psaumnes & Motets »

On February 23, 1653, after the Fronde rebellion, the most influential spectacle of the early reign of Louis XIV was presented at the Louvre: the Ballet Royal de la Nuit. Grandiose, and carefully elaborated at the highest levels of the state, the libretto by poet Bensérade called upon the finest artists of the time, both professional and aristocratic. Banishing the troubles of night, Louis XIV danced in the Sun King costume that would henceforth be forever associated with him. This important world première recording presents a reconstruction of the work created by Sébastien Daucé.

One of the central hallmarks of the Ensemble Correspondances is that all their recordings are so highly rehearsed and refined as to sound definitive. Director Daucé is throughout production a master, starting as researcher/editor and or re-constructor of the manuscripts, on to rehearsal, performance and recording. Daucé has done a prodigious job re-constructing this score (three years research alone) from the lone surviving instrumental score part, the first violin, copied out by a member of the Philidor family at the end of the 17th century. The libretto, set and costume designs survive in Paris and England (Waddesdon Manor see <www.waddesdon.org.uk/collections>). The vocal airs were published in a 1655 book of Airs by Jean de Cambefort. All the vocal music and two-thirds of the instrumental music are heard on the two CDs. The instrumental ornaments are the period of Millet and Mersenne, and all the string players shortened their bows for this project.

The seminal Ballet Royal De La Nuit of February and March (six performances) 1653 was the launch of the iconic career of Louis XIV as Le Roy Soleil, when the fifteen year old king danced Apollo at the end of the night long performance, at the dawn of a new day. What better way to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of his death in 1715, than the world premiere of the music taken from the ballet.

One of the features of this recording that is so interesting is that one hears the past and the future. Instruments (such as cornetto, cornettino, sackbut) and musical styles that were popular in the Renaissance but disappeared shortly after this work was performed make a last appearance as part of the music and band. And the future high French baroque musical style of Lully et al that we have come to recognize we also hear a glimpse of, in the music from the French composers collaborative work. Lully was in Paris and must have attended the performances, that happened over the course of a month, if he did not dance or play in the band. It obviously acted as a catalyst to his own artistic aspirations and ambitions.

The French are a people who have been “philosophical” for many centuries, it is basic to their nature. If one is to study at the overview or schemata of the libretto by poet Issac de Benserade, and the progression of the four parts, watches or Veilles of the work (la Nuit, Vénus & les Grâces, Hercule amoureux, Orphée), terminating in the Grand Ballet: Le Soleil (subtitled Les Planétes), the fourty-three entrées follow the course of the night to dawn. They include all the levels of society and various trades and aspects of life (city, country, spiritual, martial, cultural) but are more importantly a symbol of the triumph of La Monarchie over the forces of chaos, the Fronde rebellion led by the aristocracy. At the end of the night, at the hour that the dawn first appears, a performance by Louis the young king of great hope and promise for the future of the realm appears as a shining fulcrum of the nation and universe as the sun himself.

Louis XIV has been criticized for using musical and theatrical art as a propaganda tool but in truth he learned it from Cardinal Mazarin who was behind the production of this prodigious project. After the Fronde (really a civil war) was resolved in the favour of the monarchy, Cardinal Mazarin, an Italian, principal minister to the crown resumed communication with Italian artists inviting many to the court at Paris. He had brought over Italian musicians as long as he had been in power since the death of Cardinal Richelieu, in 1642. Italian music styles were very popular in the French capital existing along side the French composers work, and are therefore equally represented in this mammoth project. The libretto contains vocal sections in both Italian and French. In the Italian sections one also hears the past and the future, from Monteverdi forward to the most modern operas of Rossi and Cavalli.

Daucé has assembled a huge cast of musicians, many have been a part of his recorded projects since the first one in 2010 Charpentier O Maria! Psaumnes & Motets (ZigZag ZZT100601). There are 34 musicians and 18 singers credited. There are numerous essays, full libretto texts, set and costume designs (70 illustrations) and photos of the musicians and singers. Sample a nineteen minute documentary of this project at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mp2Ox5fr4RE&feature=youtu.be

Paul-James Dwyers

13 novembre 2015

 

 

 

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