Saturday, 12 September 2020

Remembering Rameau

 The great French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau died on this day in 1764 – which gives me the perfect pretext for paying a return visit to Teodor Currentzis's astonishing album of his music, The Sound Of Light...
Within a generation of his death, Rameau's music was wholly out of fashion and all but forgotten. It was well into the 19th century before there was even a flicker of a revival.  When, in response to the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian War, the French began revisiting the glories of their cultural past, Rameau was one of the beneficiaries, and his works began to be performed again in the 1890s. Debussy was one of those who sat up and took notice, recognising in Rameau a kindred spirit, one who, like him, was a great keyboard composer who went on to create entirely new sound worlds. One of the works that particularly impressed him was Rameau's lyric tragedy Castor et Pollux, revived in 1903. Much earlier, Berlioz had also studied Castor et Pollux, and had been particularly struck by the 'air accompagné' Tristes Apprêts – a piece that could hardly be more appropriate on the day of Rameau's death. Currentzis takes it daringly slow and, with the wonderful soprano Nadine Koutcher, creates something of almost unearthly beauty. 



5 comments:

  1. Hard to believe this dates from the 1730's, so daring is the spare orchestration - just strings and his beloved Bassoon underscoring the melancholia. Music to stop clocks.

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  2. Yes, I'm so glad to have discovered Rameau (belatedly) – and Currentzis, of course.

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