“Concert review : Le Concert Royal de la Nuit”

Whatever the musical wonders of a recent wedding in Windsor, they couldn’t have topped the feast offered here in Westminster — music for which a reigning monarch, admittedly one who was only 14, once got up and danced. The London Festival of Baroque Music couldn’t have had a grander, longer or more jubilant finale than Sébastien Daucé’s re-creation of the Ballet Royal de la Nuit, performed at the Louvre Palace in Paris in 1653, where the young Louis XIV famously danced in the finale as the Sun King, Apollo.

That moment arrived at about 10 o’clock, after 60 other baroque musical ornaments had rolled past, without any linking narrative to apply ballast and cement. Beforehand I fretted over the risk of an indigestible heap, but reckoned without the delights of the anonymous music (some of it by one Jean de Cambefort) or the electricity constantly sparking from Daucé’s Ensemble Correspondances, who were crammed on to the St John’s stage.

No costumes, scenery or dancing; for these there was neither money or room. The lack never felt a burden when the mezzo Lucile Richardot, fiercely dramatic, took the spotlight, accompanying musical flourishes with starkly stylised and expressive gestures from arms and hands. The soprano Violaine Le Chenadec, devastating in the aria in which Deianira, Hercules’ wife, bemoans her living hell, concentrated the emotions more in her voice. However, each singer, soloist or not, performed with their own special gusto.

As did the band behind them. Corporate finesse and dexterity ruled, from fiddles authentically held against the left chest to the plangent cries of sackbut and cornet, notes never cracking once. Sylvain Fabre’s contributions on drums, whistles, castanets, ratchet and wind machine sprinkled delicious pepper, and Daucé conducted smartly, sometimes holding a pen. There’s only one word for it: fantabulous.

Geoff Brown, The Times, May 22nd

Copyright 2022 Ensemble Correspondances - Tous droits réservés

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