Rameau: Anacréon (1754)

Matthew Brook Anacréon, Anna Dennis Chloé, Agustin Prunell-Friend Batile, Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Jonathan Williams
50:19
Signum Records SIGCD 402

With a libretto by Cahusac, this acte de ballet is not to be confused with the identically titled 1757 Anacréon with libretto by Bernard (see Graham Sadler’s excellent and already indispensable Rameau Compendium, pub. Boydell 2014). The score has been reconstructed by the conductor from material prepared for revivals in 1766 and 1771 – a labour of love well worth undertaking. Amazingly, the first (partial) revival in ‘modern’ times was conducted by Debussy in 1909! Even by Rameau’s standards it is a colourful score with braying horns, chirruping piccolos and much variety in the string and oboe writing, conveyed by OAE with their usual attention to detail. The ‘plot’ is a sweet love story (though not without a few hitches) which must have charmed the first audiences much as it did me. Of the three singers, Matthew Brook in the title role and Anna Dennis have a strong core to their tone which prevents the dreaded v-word from becoming an issue. There are times when this is not so true of Agustin Prunell-Friend, but this is still a very enjoyable and valuable world première recording. The booklet offers the text in French and English, though the various essays are in English only.

David Hansell