|About this Recording
8.553746 - RAMEAU: Anacreon / Daphnis et Egle
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764)
The two suites of orchestral music heard on this recording are taken from operas composed by the celebrated French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, for presentation before the court of Louis XV at the château of Fontainebleau in 1753 and 1754. Each autumn the French court travelled to this palace to stay for about six weeks. Here they hunted by day and were entertained by leading musicians and actors at night. Indeed, when the country's finances permitted, such trips resulted in a showcase for the performing arts symbolic of the wealth, power and magnificence of both the court and the country at large. Thus, the opportunity to present new works at Fontainebleau was a signal honour for any composer. These occasions were particularly important for Rameau, whose career in Paris had recently undergone several reversals. Performances of his operas had been sharply curtailed at the Paris Opéra; his name had been bandied about in the controversy surrounding the presentation of Italian opera in Paris, and the relationship with his patron of long standing was coming to an end. [For further details on these events, see the notes accompanying Naxos 8.553388, "Rameau: Orchestral Suites, Vol. 1," where plot descriptions of the two operas discussed below can also be found.]
The Fontainebleau entertainments of 1753 were ordered by the duc de Richelieu, and they constituted a lavish programme of older and new works lasting from 16th October until 22nd November. The theme of love disguised as friendship figured prominently in many of the new works ordered for 1753. This theme appears to have been an allegorical allusion to Louis XV and Mme de Pompadour, who claimed that they had not been lovers since 1751. Rameau was asked to present three new works, Daphnis et Eglé, Lisis et Délie and Les Sibarites. Only Les Sibarites contained no obvious references to the allegory. If Rameau hoped that these works would help secure his position at court (and win the favour of the powerful Mme de Pompadour, in particular), it was not to be. Objections to the choice of entertainments began following the second evening in the court's theatre, a performance of Boursault's Le Mercure galant (1683). Queen Marie, who had attended this performance with her daughters, was scandalized by the play, and she complained at length to de Richelieu. As a result, he scrutinized the chosen entertainments carefully and cancelled several new works, including Lisis et Délie. Furthermore, it remains unclear if Daphnis et Eglé was performed again after the dress rehearsal. In the process, all references to love disguised as friendship disappeared from the list of entertainments. The score to Lisis et Délie is now lost; that of Daphnis et Eglé was never published, and it remains one of Rameau's least known works.
The music of Daphnis et Eglé has far greater significance than does its weak, pastoral libretto written by Charles Collé. Of particular interest is the emphasis upon musical traits associated with the German centre of Mannheim. The overture begins in the manner of a symphony by Johann Stamitz, and dynamic contrasts figure prominently in many of the subsequent movements. Traditional French values can be found as well in the pair of graceful menuets which serve as the third movement of the overture. Indeed, the emphasis upon dance is particularly strong in this opera, and Rameau's dance music embraces a wide range of moods, from the delicate Musette to the spirited Tambourin movements and the final Contredanse.
Anacréon was one of two new works by Rameau presented at Fontainebleau in 1754. The court's time there 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 suite taken from this work can be found on Naxos 8.553388. Rameau's other offering for the court was a pastoral work based on the legend of Anacreon. This opera was given two performances, on the 23rd and 26th October. The court's reaction to Anacréon was mixed, perhaps owing to the serious nature of the story. Surprisingly, several lines in the libretto appear to have upset Queen Marie. Rameau's faith in the opera remained strong however, and he prepared a slightly revised version of it for performances in Paris. These performances did not take place lintil1766, some two years after the composer's death. The music of the opera is strong, and the entire work is worthy of modem stage revival. In place of an overture, Rameau composed a Ritournelle, a single movement which flows into the opening scene without a break. The present recording utilizes a return to the opening in order to provide a satisfying conclusion to the movement. Although dance does not play as prominent a role in this opera as it does in some other works, Rameau's music is striking and contains much brilliant orchestration. The use of dramatic dance is represented here in the through-composed movements, such as the complex and imitative Bacchanales, and the sectionalized Pantomime très gaye which was likely composed to match a specific choreography. The music for the Tambourin movements can also be found in the source materials for La Naissance d'Osiris. That Rameau also used these dances in Anacréon should not surprise, for they are amongst the striking and memorable to come from Rameau's pen.
@ 1997 Paul F. Rice
The Hungarian-born conductor and musicologist, Mary Térey-Smith, was trained at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and was appointed as resident conductor of the Tatabânya Symphony Orchestra in 1952. She remained in that position until1956, when she left Hungary after participating in the Revolution of that year. Canada became her home next and, after a period spent in Montréal, she subsequently accepted a position with the Toronto Opera School as coach and conductor, going on to take her doctorate at the Eastman School of Music. Nowa senior member of the music faculty of Western Washington University, Térey-Smith has given performances in Italy, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania with the university's Collegium Musicum, an ensemble which she founded in 1970. Mary Térey-Smith's research interests have centred largely on French Baroque opera and, in particular, the works of Rameau.
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