L’Esprit Galant – Works by LAMBERT, LE CAMUS, CHARPENTIER, HOTMAN A.O. for soprano and French theorbo – Johannette Zomer and Fred Jacobs – Channel Classics

by | Feb 20, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

L’Esprit Galant – Works by LAMBERT, LE CAMUS, CHARPENTIER, HOTMAN A.O. for soprano and French theorbo – Johannette Zomer/Fred Jacobs – Channel Classics CCS SA 24307. 60:03 **** [Distr. by HM]:

The galant poets were popular in France around 1670 and their words were matched to music for delicate and cheerful Air sérieux which became the rage in Parisian salons in the latter part of the 17th century. Not only did the characteristics of delicacy and spirited delivery apply to the words and music but also to the style of performance. It was considered important for the diction to be perfect, with every syllable clearly pronounced.

Charpentier is the best known of the composers who were masters of this particular song form, but all of those represented in this collection of miniature jewels have created inspired little courtly songs. The two performers are well-versed in the style.  Soprano Zomer is Dutch and often performs recitals accompanied either by lute or fortepiano.  Jacobs plays a theorbo which differs from the usual Italian model by having shorter bass strings and a body closer in shape to a large lute than most theorbos.  He offers a contrast to the vocal selections with several brief instrumental works spaced thru the program.  Most of them employ dance movements such as the sarabande and courante.

Zomer has a rich and lovely voice with excellent pitch and phrasing as well as good diction. English translations of all the songs are provided.  The excitements, pain and cruelty of love are the focus of most of them. The sound of the theorbo is subtle and fairly quiet, but has a wide range – especially in the lower frequencies. After a program such as this, the standard Spanish guitar sounds a bit raspy and blatant.  And yes, though it’s not possible to have only two musicians surround you, the multichannel option clearly makes the listening experience more naturalistic and involving.


Antoine Boësset (1586 – 1643)

Noires forêts
Que servent tes conseils

Ennemond Gautier (ca. 1575 – 1651)


Antoine Boësset

Me veux-tu voir mourir

Germain Pinel (ca. 1600 – 1661)


Michel Lambert (ca. 1610 – 1696)

Vous éprouver toujours sévère
Ombre de mon amant

Nicolas Hotman (before 1614 – 1663)


Michel Lambert

Il n’est point d’amour sans peine
Rochers, vous êtes sourds
Vos mépris chaque jour

Nicolas Hotman Pièces de théorbe in d minor:


Sébastien le Camus (ca. 1610 – 1677)

Forêts solitaires et sombres
Ah! Fuyons ce dangereux séjour
Laissez durer la nuit
Qu’une longue tiédeur ennuie
Amour, cruel Amour

Robert de Visée (before 1660 – after 1725)

la Mascarade
Chaconne en rondeau

Marc Antoine Charpentier (1643 – 1704)

Ah! Laissez-moi rêver H. 441
Celle qui fait tout mon tourment H. 450
Ah! Qu’on est malheureux H. 443
Ruisseau, qui nourrit dans ce bois H. 466
Sans frayeur dans ce bois (Chaconne) H. 467

– John Sunier

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