Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tempesta di Mare -- Lully, Marais, Rebel, Drama!

This release features the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully along with two younger composers who played in his orchestra: Jean-éry Rebel (violin) and Marin Marais (viola da gamba). While the three share a certain similarity of style, there are distinct differences -- especially when played by Tempesta di Mare.

Lully's "Le Bourgeouis Gentilhomme" reflects Louis XIV's fascination with the Orient after a visit from the Turkish ambassador in 1669. The orchestral suite features drums, tambourine, and cymbals, all Turkish instruments. The Tempesta di Mare plays these selections with relish -- especially the Spanish airs, which involve hand clapping and castanets.

Just listen to the opening chords of Jean-Féry Rebel's "Les Éléments" and you might mistake it for a contemporary work. This 1736 "Symphonique nouvelle" depicts order arising out of chaos in a programmatic fashion Richard Strauss might approve of. The opening chords -- chaos -- contain every note in the D minor scale sounding (to these 21st Century ears) very much like a tone cluster!

Marin Marais was a virtuoso viola da gamba player, but he was also a composer of considerable skill. The suite from his 1706 opera "Alcyone" features a highly dramatic opening that seems to anticipate the Sturm und Drang of Haydn.

Tempesta di Mare Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra performs these works with fire and imagination. They have a tight, well-focused ensemble sound that throws the inner workings of the contrapuntal sections in sharp relief. And their expressive playing gives brings out the individuality of each composer.

Comédie et Tragédie, Volume 1 
Jean Baptiste Lully: Suite from "Le Bourgeouis Gentilhomme"; Jean-Féry Rebel: Les Éléments; Marin Marais: Suite from "Alcyone"
Tempesta di Mare Chaconne Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra
Chaconne Chan 0805

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