L’Héritage de Rameau

Ensemble Les Surprises, dir. Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulais, Yves Rechsteiner organ
54:54
Ambronay AMY050
Rameau (arr.), Rebel, Francoeur

Now then, concentrate! From 1755 to 1772 the resident organist of the Concert Spirituel was Claude-Bénigne Balbastre. In 1768 he would appear to have played a ‘Suite de Symphonies’ for organ and orchestra by Rameau. However, performing material for such a work no longer exists and this programme is an attempt to re-create what it might have sounded like. So we have three modern organ concertos in mid-18th-century style ‘on themes by Rameau’ (famous themes, too), which are separated by orchestral dance suites drawn from the dramatic works of Rebel and Francoeur. The whole premise is not unreasonable. Rameau’s music was core repertoire at the Concert Spirituel and the programmes at this time often featured arrangements of various kinds. And it is splendid to hear these enthusiastic and clean performances on a ‘real’ organ – a three manual Clicquot of 1782. The registrations used are those recommended by Corrette for concertos and these – reed and tierce heavy in the allegros – do not always blend well with the strings. I wonder if, against an organ with serious ‘oomph’, the ensemble (33221) simply needed to be bigger? The booklet (Fr/Eng) includes three concise but lively essays. This is quite a short CD by most current standards, but it made me smile.

David Hansell

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