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Reviews: Rameau: L'Orchestre de Louis XV - Savall

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Reviews: 2

Review by jeff3948 July 2, 2011 (17 of 17 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is a brand new recording (2010 and 2011) by Jardi Savall and his Le Concert des Nations were they pull out a magnificent performance and the recording engineer, Manuel Mohino, does a superb job at capturing this performance in 5.0 surround sound.

Performance:
The performance is committed and passionate and delicate when called for. Jordi Savall has completely abandoned himself to the characters of these pieces and one gets lost in them. In the notes to this recording, Raphaelle Legrand says, "In this opera (Les Boreades) the eighty-year-old Rameau was more experimental than ever before: the textures are ever more varied, the touches of instrumental color more delicate, and the Rococo fantasy and refinement are taken to their utmost expression, all at a time when the new generation was inventing the classical orchestra." And Savall with his Le Concert des Nations gives us those varied beautiful textures and delicate colors. here. One more tidbit, in Les Boreades - Les Vents, Jordi Savall uses several real wind machines that surround you to great effect (http://youtu.be/8ftyJLl6jl4) (please note that the video only shows one wind machine, however, in this recording it sounds like several wind machines were used surrounding you, but it could be the effect that the reverberation of the hall produces. What a JOY this performance was! I'm going to go listen to it again as soon as I finish this review!

Recording:
Engineer Manuel Mohino gives us a 5.0 surround recording with the orchestra placed directly in front of you and surrounding you about 180 degrees around with the harpsichord to your far left and slightly behind. Basically you are setting right at the conductor's podium! The recording venue is the luxurious Arsenal in Metz France. I have heard one other recording made at the arsenal of Handel's Water Music and Fireworks music, but it was a disaster because the recording technique placed the microphones much too distant from the orchestra so the details were completely washed out by the reverberation of the hall on the Glossa label: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001ECDZO6 . However, in this case Manuel Mohino has placed the microphones at the perfect distance from the orchestra to capture detail and still retain the beautiful 3 to 4 second reverberation time of this hall. The original instruments here sound sumptuously organic. The Holy Grail is to have warm acoustics with detail and nice reverberation and Manuel Mohino has achieved this feat! It is a truly realistic gorgeous (you are there) recording. My SACD player is the Denon DVD-3910 and my play volume used was -18db on my Denon AVR-3805 receiver with a speaker efficiency of 91db, this provided the perfect "live" volume.

Conclusion: I complete all around 5 star rating!

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Review by larsmusik August 4, 2011 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Every time I hear the music of Jean-Phillipe Rameau (1683-1764) I am astonished again. This time especially so! Jordi Savall has assembled instrumental music from four of Rameau's dramatic spectacles (it seems wrong somehow merely to term them "operas"), and the results are fantastic. The music is immensely colorful: Rameau was a genius at orchestration, changing and blending timbres (strings, woodwinds, keyboards, and more) at the drop of a hat, but always in the service of theatrical expression. You can almost close your eyes and see the stage action unfold!

His innovative use of color is echoed in the advanced (for the 18th c.) use of contrasting motives and bizarre or syncopated rhythms that enliven many of the numbers. One is reminded of Mozart and even Stravinsky -- both of whom were also masters of drama and dance music. As a result, you are constantly engaged and delighted in a way that has no equal in Baroque music. Really, the orchestral suites of Handel and Bach will seem rather tame after you've heard these collections.

Very nice booklet essays too, especially the detailed scholarly contribution by Raphaelle LeGrand, who notes that Louis XV didn't really have too much to do with Rameau's career. Still, it's a good marketing tool for Savall, and one certainly doesn't begrudge him the attempt to make one more broad cultural connection in this way.

Perhaps it goes without saying that Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations do a superb job with the performances. Fiery, witty, lyrical, expressive, committed playing from beginning to end. And it is indeed beautifully recorded by Manuel Mohino in (ahem!) two venues, the Collegiale de Cardona (Catalogne) and the Great Hall of the Arsenal at Metz (France). Wonderfully spacious acoustic but not a bit of detail sacrificed. Nice use of surround-sound mix, but what I especially appreciated was getting to hear every biting down-bow that the violins made. Delicious!

(The four operas excerpted here are Les Indes Galantes, Nais, Zoroastre, and Les Boreades. Material from Les Indes Galantes especially has appeared in recordings previously, but collectors should not hesitate to acquire this new set, because the performances and recording are outstanding.)

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