Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau = MICHEL PIGNOLET DE MONTECLAIR: Jephte (excerpts); ANTONIE DAUVERGNE: Hercule mourant (excerpts); La Venitienne (excerpts); RAMEAU: Hippolyte & Aricie (excerpts); NICOLAS RACOT DE GRANDVAL: Cantate Rien du tout – Daniela Skorka, sop./ Emilie Renard, mezzo-sop./ Benedetta Mazzucato, contr./ Zachary Wilder, tenor/ Victor Sicard, bar./ Cyril Costanzo, bass/ Les Arts Florissants/ William Christie – Editions Arts Florissants AF.002, 81:03 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

From the Harmonia mundi website: “In this new album, William Christie invites us to a wander in the vocal art of the XVIIIth Century, at the time of Rameau and his contemporaries. These musical treasures, as with the famous gardens ‘à la française’, are closely linked to these times of splendour. The soloists come from the Jardin des Voix, the Arts Florissants’ Academy for young singers in which the most promising talents of the upcoming generation had the privilege to work with the ensemble, before starting a worldwide tour on the most prestigious venues. This recording crowns their work.”

It is very nice that Christie and company allow for this sort of development and exposure for these young artists. And if this recording is any indication, the French Baroque repertory at least appears to be in good generational shape, and we can look forward to some real discoveries in the future. The singers, from Israel, Britain, Italy, the United States, and France, show that no facets of the Baroque era are off-limits to any nationality, and they are helping bring to light the truly international aspects of this music. Each singer is nothing less than accomplished and quite adept at his interpretation, so performance-wise—and sound as well, recorded in 2013—there is nothing about this album that one can complain.

All of these composers were in Rameau’s orbit in the 1700s, either influencing him or being influenced by him. There is a small dramatic thread that runs through all the pieces here geared to allowing the singers to try and present understandable and comprehensible scenarios in a limited scope. It works well—I would much rather have excerpts from the several wonderful pieces than not hear them at all.

As a bonus of sorts, Christie commissioned a musically-oriented short story by Adrien Goetz, nicely given in a separate booklet, wrapping up a fine and generously-presented production.

—Steven Ritter