Véronique Gens, Ensemble Les Surprises, Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas
Alpha Classics Aplha 747
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Lully’s music dominates this ‘imaginary opera’ in a recital of arias grouped by mood/subject into five ‘acts’. Véronique Gens came to fame as an exponent of this repertoire: opinion will be divided as to whether her voice as it now is (strikingly successful in Mozart, Verdi and Wagner) is still as effective and appropriate here as it once was.
My own view is that even though the premières actrices and grandes dessus whom she seeks to emulate undoubtedly sang with great passion, a singer with modern training could perhaps be more restrained in early repertoire and seek to get a little closer to the sonic world of the orchestra. The same goes for the choir.
However, despite these reservations and my dislike of the tamperings with the instrumentation, I have to say that, on its own terms, this is a brilliant performance of an excellent programme.
The booklet (essays in French, English and German, though sung texts are only printed in French and English) offers the artists adequate support though the graphic designer should know that a page of text in capital letters is not easy to read and eliminates the possibility of highlighting important names by their initial letter.