Tragédiennes 2
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Alceste (1776)
1. Grands dieux soutenez mon courage … Ah! Divinités implacables [6:38]
Antonio SACCHINI (1730-1786)
Dardanus (1784)
2. Il me fuit … Rien ne peut émouvoir [3:49]
3. Cesse cruel amour de régner sur mon âme [3:04]
Niccolo PICCINNI (1728-1800)
Didon (1783)
4. Non, ce n’est plus pour moi [4:27]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Orphée et Eurydice (1774)
5. Ballet des ombres heureuses [5:10]
6. Air de Furies [4:02]
Antonio SACCHINI (1730-1786)
œdipe à Colone (1786)
7. Dieux, ce n’est pas pour moi que ma voix vous implore [2:20]
André GRÉTRY (1741-1813)
Andromaque (1780)
8. C’est le seul espoir qui me reste … Si fidèle au nœud qui l’engage [2:34]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Les Paladins (1760)
9. Entrée très gaye de Troubadours [2:25]
10. Triste séjour [2:28]
11. Sarabande [3:03]
Antonio SACCHINI (1730-1786)
Renaud (1783)
12. Hélas vous le dirais-je … Ah! Que dis-tu? [3:33]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Les Paladins
13. Menuets I & II [4:33]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Médée (1797)
14. Ah! Nos peines seront communes [8:24]
Juan Crisostomo de ARRIAGA (1806-1826)
Herminie (1823)
15. Mais sur cette arène guerrière … Il n’est plus … Dieux cruels [3:48]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Les Troyens (1858)
16. Les Grecs ont disparu … Malheureux Roi [7:00]
Véronique Gens (soprano)
Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset
rec. Paroisse Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, 10-14 May 2008 and at Chapelle de l’école Saint Michel, Nantes, 30-31 October, 1 November 2008
Texts and translations enclosed
VIRGIN CLASSICS 2165742 [67:26]

There's an air of the cinematic reprise about this disc. It represents the second volume of Gens's Tragédiennes series but here parallels with film franchises cease. Here, as with the first volume, we find an artfully constructed programme replete with the kind of rarities so welcome in a single disc, albeit leavened with  some things from the French repertoire, such as the Rameau, and of course the later Berlioz, that will be more familiar. As with many disc recitals of this kind these days there are orchestral interludes - though that's surely to diminish the superb playing of Les Talens Lyriques under the ever alert Christophe Rousset.

A look at the programme will show how much thought has gone into consolidating the items. We start with one of the better known pieces, the aria from Gluck's Alceste. Gens's declamatory surety immediately establishes, if such were needed, her theatrical force in this repertoire. No sooner have we settled though, than we are introduced to rarities. Sacchini's Dardanus is not on everyone's in-tray of releases; so much the worse for us, I think, if this terse, tense and fast aria is an example of its quality. The quivering orchestral accompaniment tells us all we need to know about emotive states, and Gens's singing, without extraneous gestures, or breathy aggrandisements, is splendid. This aria immediately contrasts with the following one from the opera, which is slow, and stately.

Piccinni's Didion is surely as obscure as Dardanus and the single example from it augurs well. The strong, columnar brass, scurrying strings and exciting accelerandos prefigure an aria of wide leaping intervals after which the familiar Gluck orchestral movements come as balm and 'interlude'. Gens is a committed singer, technically highly accomplished, but not one who sacrifices clarity or proper expressive weight to rogue gestures. One listen to Grétry's Andromaque convinces as to her secure status as a singer of this repertoire. Her Rameau is beautifully sad, her Cherubini totally convincing, and the Berlioz, with which the disc ends, suggests paths absorbed and paths yet to be taken in the French operatic school.

The booklet's track-listing has suffered a hiatus but there is a three language libretto (French, English and German). Gens is a laudable advocate for this repertoire, and the support she receives throughout is just as admirable.

Jonathan Woolf