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Clerambault: Orphee, Medee, Two Harpsichord Suites

Reinhard Goebel, Rachel Yakar, Wilbert Hazelzet, Charles Medlam, ..
Orphée, cantata No. 3 for voice & ensemble
Médée, cantata for voice & ensemble
Suite for harpsichord No 1 in C
Suite for harpsichord No. 2 in C minor

Here are two fine examples of an unduly neglected genre. The French cantata flowered at the beginning of the eighteenth century; by the middle of the century it was almost dead. The repertory is considerable; pre-eminent among its composers are Clérambault and Montéclair,

Clérambault's Orphée and Médée both belong to his first book of cantatas, published in 1710. They were among the most celebrated and oft-performed cantatas of their time, and deservedly so. Médée is the more dramatic and Italianate, and has as its climax a remarkable "Evocation", a sombre F minor movement with a sullen, jerky obbligato for the violin in its lowest register. Also unorthodox is the movement where the bass continuo instrument is silent and the bass line is in the violin part; this happens even more strikingly in Orphée, with the timbre of soprano, violin, flute and harpsichord in its upper register making a very pure and charming effect.

The style of these pieces is not easy for a singer, in particular, to find. She needs first a fluent enough technique to manage easily and clearly the elaborate ornamentation, without blurring its detail; second, a tone quality that is at the same time light and well defined; and third, a feeling for the particular expressive character of the music. Rachel Yakar answers most of these requirements pretty well, as she has shown in earlier performances of related repertory, on records and on the stage. Her ornamentation is beautifully formed, her expression properly touching

There is admirable instrumental support, with a good deal of vitality (and on the whole reliable intonation) from the violin and much sensibilité from the flute. A pleasing record.

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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