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CD: Crotchet

Le Salon de Musique de Marie-Antoinette
Francesco PETRINI
Les Folies d’Espagne, and 12 variations for harp
Christophe Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
‘J’ai perdu mon Eurydice’ for tenor and harp
Jean-Baptiste KRUMPHOLTZ (1742-1790)
‘L’amante abandonée’ for soprano, violin and harp
‘La nuit profonde’ for tenor and harp
Sonata in F major for harp and violin
Jean-Baptiste CARDON (1760-1803)
Sonata in E flat for harp
Antoine DAUVERGNE (1713-1797)
‘Tircis et Cloris s’absentent chaque jour de leur troupeau’ for soprano, tenor, violin and harp
‘La beauté pour qui je brûle’ for tenor, violin and harp
‘C’est une folie d’avoir tant d’appâts’ for tenor, violin and harp
Joseph-Boulogne de SAINT-GEORGES (1745-1799)
Sonata in E flat for harp and flute
Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793)
‘C’est mon ami’ for soprano and harp
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
‘Oiseaux, si tous les ans’ for soprano and harp
Adagio for glass harmonica
Jan Ladislav DUSIK (1760-1812)
Sonatine for harp
Giovanni PAISIELLO (1740-1816)
Entr’acte for harp from Il Re Teodoro in Venezia
André-Ernest-Modest GRÉTRY (1741-1813)
‘Malgré la fortune cruelle’ from La Caravane du Caire
Jean-Paul-Égide MARTINI (1741-1816)
‘Plaisir d’amour’ for soprano, tenor, violin and harp
Sandrine Chatron (harp)
Isabelle Poulenard (soprano)
Jean-François Lombard (tenor)
Stéphanie Paulet (violin)
Amélie Michel (flute)
rec. Musée de la Musique, Cité de la Musique, Paris, June 2008. DDD
AMBROISIE AM179 [77:33]
Experience Classicsonline

There is a real appeal to this disc, despite the modest nature and eclectic mix of music.

The starting point for this collection of salon pieces is the 1799 Érard harp, played exquisitely by Sandrine Chatron. Judging by the sound quality and the splendid photos in the sleeve notes, the harp was (and still is) a masterpiece of technical and musical invention. Equipped with a fork mechanism for the stings, seven pedals, and five soundbox shutters, it was the very latest in instrumental technology.

As a keen harpist (as well as a decent singer and harpsichord player), the French queen Marie-Antoinette took an interest in new music for, or adapted for, the harp. Accordingly, the works on this disc were dedicated to the queen, or else were probably performed during her intimate salons at the palace of Versailles, the Trianon or the chateau of Fontainebleau.

The pieces fall into three main categories: sonatas for harp, sometimes with violin or flute accompaniment; instrumental arrangements of operatic airs and songs for soprano and tenor; and short miscellaneous pieces for solo harp.

Highlights include the more substantial harp sonata by Jean-Baptiste Cardon (tacks 5-8). The playing is lush and delicate by turns, showcasing the technical possibilities of the Érard instrument. Equally beguiling is Les Folies d’Espagne by Francesco Petrini (track 1). A Spanish-flavoured tune with 12 variations, it perfectly conjures up the sense of the ‘exotic’ which must have delighted listeners at the French court.

Also of interest are the airs songs for soprano and tenor, with harp, flute and violin accompaniment. They clearly show Marie-Antoinette’s own operatic preferences (Gluck and Grétry were her particular favourites), and point towards the later development of French Romantic opera during the Revolution and beyond. The adaptation of ‘J’ai perdu mon Eurydice’ from Gluck’s Orphée (track 2) is sung movingly by tenor Jean-François Lombard, who has a lithe and expressive voice. Soprano Isabelle Poulenard delivers several fine renditions, including Marie-Antoinette’s own composition, ‘C’est mon ami’ (track 15).

There is a simplicity and warmth to this disc, which displays the special qualities of the Érard harp, and casts light on a forgotten corner of French musical life.

John-Pierre Joyce
























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