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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jean-Philippe Rameau - Suites d'Orchestre (Jordi Savall)


Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau

  • (01-13) Les Indes Galantes
  • (14-24) Naïs
  • (01-09) Zoroastre
  • (10-17) Les Boréades

Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor

Date: 2011
Label: Alia Vox



It’s as though I’ve been thrown back into an earlier time whenever I review one of many recordings of orchestral suites drawn from Rameau’s operas. Each seems to imply that the sung portions of these operas are too uninteresting or difficult for the average classical enthusiast to enjoy, a problem not presented by the cantatas and oratorios of Bach and Handel. Granted, there’s much to be enjoyed in such conductor-built suites, but I’m hoping that someday, preferably during my lifetime, conductors and record labels realize that interpolating airs-as-sung into such Rameau suites instead of arranging them into airs-without-voices has a charm of its own. Perhaps these same conductors might even go so far as to substitute a few airs for some of the regularly excerpted dances in their recordings. It would be a great way to bring new listeners to the operas, who would then no longer harbor any suspicion that the dances were somehow unrepresentative of Rameau’s brilliant operatic art. 

So much for my cavil. Suffice to say that these arrangements of airs work, along with everything else, and that the performances are among the most lively and flexibly phrased you’ll find in this music on disc. Le Concert des Nations is extremely responsive to Jordi Savall, and the whole affair is brought off with the kind of attention to color and expressive variety you’d expect from a first-rate pops concert—and no, that’s not a putdown. My only specific criticism about the content is its relatively short length. At under 110 minutes, surely another suite could have been included. That aside, and with excellent sound, this is definitely recommended. 

-- Barry Brenesal, FANFARE

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****


Jean-Philippe Rameau (25 September 1683 – 12 September 1764) was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François Couperin. Rameau's music had gone out of fashion by the end of the 18th century, and it was not until the 20th that serious efforts were made to revive it. Today, he enjoys renewed appreciation with performances and recordings of his music ever more frequent.


Jordi Savall (born August 1, 1941) is a Catalan conductor, viol player, and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for reviving the use of viol family instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. His characteristic repertoire features Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, although he has occasionally ventured into the Classical and even the Romantic periods. Savall's discography includes more than 100 recordings on EMI Classics, Astrée, and his own label, Alia Vox.


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  2. One of the best Rameau suites recordings. Thanks!!

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