RAMEAU: Anacreon / Daphnis et Egle (Capella Savaria/ Mary Terey-Smith/ Tamas Benedek) (Naxos: 8.553746)
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Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Rameau at the Ch?óteau of Fontainebleau (1753-1754)
Orchestral Suites Vol. 2 Anacreon
Daphnis et Egle
The two suites of orchestral music heard on this recording are takenfrom operas composed by the celebrated French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau,for presentation before the court of Louis XV at the ch?óteau of Fontainebleauin 1753 and 1754. Each autumn the French court travelled to this palace to stayfor about six weeks. Here they hunted by day and were entertained by leadingmusicians and actors at night. Indeed, when the country's finances permitted,such trips resulted in a showcase for the performing arts symbolic of thewealth, power and magnificence of both the court and the country at large.
Thus, the opportunity to present new works at Fontainebleau was a signal honourfor any composer. These occasions were particularly important for Rameau, whosecareer in Paris had recently undergone several reversals. Performances of hisoperas had been sharply curtailed at the Paris Opera; his name had been bandiedabout in the controversy surrounding the presentation of Italian opera inParis, and the relationship with his patron of long standing was coming to anend. [For further details on these events, see the notes accompanying Naxos8.553388, "Rameau: Orchestral Suites, Vol. 1," where plotdescriptions of the two operas discussed below can also be found.]
The Fontainebleau entertainments of 1753 were ordered by the duc deRichelieu, and they constituted a lavish programme of older and new workslasting from 16th October until 22nd November. The theme of love disguised asfriendship figured prominently in many of the new works ordered for 1753. Thistheme appears to have been an allegorical allusion to Louis XV and Mme dePompadour, who claimed that they had not been lovers since 1751. Rameau wasasked to present three new works, Daphnis etEgle, Lisis et Delie and LesSibarites. Only Les Sibarites containedno obvious references to the allegory. If Rameau hoped that these works wouldhelp secure his position at court (and win the favour of the powerful Mme dePompadour, in particular), it was not to be. Objections to the choice ofentertainments began following the second evening in the court's theatre, aperformance of Boursault's Le Mercure galant(1683). Queen Marie, who had attended this performance with herdaughters, was scandalized by the play, and she complained at length to deRichelieu. As a result, he scrutinized the chosen entertainments carefully andcancelled several new works, including Lisiset Delie. Furthermore, it remains unclear if Daphnis et Egle was performed again afterthe dress rehearsal. In the process, all references to love disguised asfriendship disappeared from the list of entertainments. The score to Lisis et Delie is now lost; that of Daphnis et Egle was never published, andit remains one of Rameau's least known works.
The music of Daphnis et Egle hasfar greater significance than does its weak, pastoral libretto written byCharles Colle. Of particular interest is the emphasis upon musical traitsassociated with the German centre of Mannheim. The overture begins in themanner of a symphony by Johann Stamitz, and dynamic contrasts figureprominently in many of the subsequent movements. Traditional French values canbe found as well in the pair of graceful menuetswhich serve as the third movement of the overture. Indeed, theemphasis upon dance is particularly strong in this opera, and Rameau's dancemusic embraces a wide range of moods, from the delicate Musette to the spirited Tambourin movements and the final Contredanse.
Anacreon was oneof two new works by Rameau presented at Fontainebleau in 1754. The court's timethere was a festive occasion which celebrated the birth of the duc de Berry,the future Louis XVI. To mark this event, Rameau composed La Naissance d'Osiris. An orchestral suitetaken from this work can be found on Naxos 8.553388. Rameau's other offeringfor the court was a pastoral work based on the legend of Anacreon. This operawas given two performances, on the 23rd and 26th October. The court's reactionto Anacreon was mixed, perhapsowing to the serious nature of the story. Surprisingly, several lines in thelibretto appear to have upset Queen Marie. Rameau's faith in the opera remainedstrong however, and he prepared a slightly revised version of it forperformances in Paris. These performances did not take place lintil1766, sometwo years after the composer's death. The music of the opera is strong, and theentire work is worthy of modem stage revival. In place of an overture, Rameaucomposed a Ritournelle, a singlemovement which flows into the opening scene without a break. The presentrecording utilizes a return to the opening in order to provide a satisfyingconclusion to the movement. Although dance does not play as prominent a role inthis opera as it does in some other works, Rameau's music is striking andcontains much brilliant orchestration. The use of dramatic dance is representedhere in the through-composed movements, such as the complex and imitative Bacchanales, and the sectionalized Pantomime tr?¿s gaye which was likelycomposed to match a specific choreography. The music for the Tambourin movements can also be found inthe source materials for La Naissance d'Osiris.
That Rameau also used these dances in Anacreon should not surprise, for they are amongst thestriking and memorable to come from Rameau's pen.
@ 1997 Paul F. Rice
The Capella Savaria chamber ensemble was founded in the Western Hungariantown of Szombathely in 1981, taking its name from the area's Roman name,Savar?«a. The ensemble plays on period instruments under the artisticdirectorship of P?ól Nemeth. Performances of music of the seventeenth andeighteenth centuries, based on historical documents of the time, have givenCapella Savaria a firm place in the musical life of Hungary. Appearances infestivals throughout Europe, and concerts in Brazil and Israel have garneredcritical acclaim for the group. The ensemble has no state subsidy, but workswith the help of the Savaria Museum Friends of Early Music.
The Hungarian-born conductor and musicologist, Mary Terey-Smith, wastrained at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and was appointed as residentconductor of the Tatab?ónya Symphony Orchestra in 1952. She remained in thatposition until1956, when she left Hungary after participating in the Revolutionof that year. Canada became her home next and, after a period spent inMontreal, she subsequently accepted a position with the Toronto Opera School ascoach and conductor, going on to take her doctorate at the Eastman School ofMusic. Nowa senior member of the music faculty of Western WashingtonUniversity, Terey-Smith has given performances in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakiaand Romania with the university's Collegium Musicum, an ensemble which shefounded in 1970. Mary Terey-Smith's research interests have centred largely onFrench Baroque opera and, in particular, the works of Rameau.