Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Nicolas Racot DE GRANVAL (1676-1753)
Serious and Comic Cantatas
Rien du Tout (Cantatas Book 2, No.2)*
Gregoire (Book 2, No. 6)***
Ixion (Book 2, No. 4)*
L'Impatient (Book 1, No2)**
La Comtesse d'Ollonne
Beatrice Mayo-Felip (sop)*
Jean-Yves Ravoux (haut-contre)**
Paul-Alexandre Dubois (bass)***
Ensemble Almasis, directed by Iakovos Pappas
Recorded in March 2000
ARION ARN 68548 [56.01]


I suspect that the name of the Frenchman, Nicolas de Granval may be as unfamiliar to as many readers as it was to me. According to the notes, he was a composer, harpsichordist and author. Satire and parody were important elements in his creative output. Indeed, many of the cantatas which he composed, including some of those included on this disc, are described as "comic, not to say burlesque".

The notes are written by Iakovos Pappas and it is clear from what he has to say that a great deal of thought and research has gone into the preparation of this CD. In fact, I wish he had given us a little less information about the contemporary performance practices which he and his colleagues have tried to re-create. A bit more detail about this wholly unfamiliar music would have been welcome. For example, no dates of composition are given though we are told that de Granval's First Book of cantatas was published in 1720 and the second, posthumously, in 1755

As far as I can judge the musical performances on this disc are excellent. I make this qualification because, in the interests of authenticity the singers produce some slightly surprising sounds. This is especially true of Rien du Tout. Here, for the recitatives, Beatrice Mayo-Felip sometimes resorts to an 18th century anticipation of sprechgesang. No doubt this is authentic but it takes some getting used to.

Whether the music quite justifies all the care which Pappas and his colleagues lavish upon it is another question. All four cantatas recorded here are short and are broken up into several very brief sections. There is no extended music at all (the longest movement lasts a mere 3.35).

I am sorry to say that the music failed to arouse much interest in me. Collectors who are interested in the more recherché aspects of the French baroque may find more to detain them. They will certainly encounter a disc which has well produced sound and which contains performances which are probably expert and certainly enthusiastic.

The texts of the four cantatas are provided together with translations. However, this does not extend to the final work on the disc, La Comtesse d'Ollonne (1738). This is a spoken text for 5 characters, lasting just over 10 minutes, with no musical accompaniment. Other than to describe it as "a short, erotic piece" Pappas provides no information whatsoever about it and in the absence of any translation I am unable to enlighten anyone as to what on earth is going on.

A release of very limited, specialist appeal only, I fear.

John Quinn

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