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Brillez, astres nouveaux!’
Chantal Santon-Jeffery (soprano)
Purcell Choir
Orfeo Orchestra/György Vashegyi
rec. 2017, Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Müpa Budapest, Hungary
Sung French texts with English translations.
APARTÉ AP223 [76:34]

This collection of mainly late-baroque French opera arias is performed by soprano Chantal Santon-Jeffery, a specialist in this repertoire. The nine composers range from the most celebrated Rameau and Leclair to the much less known Cardonne and Gervais. The arias reflect the glories of the opera institution Académie Royale de Musique, more usually known as the Paris Opéra. The album takes its name from an aria Brillez, astres nouveaux! (Shine, shine, new stars!) from Rameau’s opera Castor et Pollux. There are twenty-four French-language arias and nine short orchestral works. Recorded in association with the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, the release includes a number of previously unrecorded works although there is no indication which ones they are.

The Marseille-born Santon-Jeffery takes on a number of arias from roles created by star women singers of the day at the Paris Opéra during the period 1725-1765, notably Mlle Petitpas, Marie Fel and Marie-Jeanne Lemière. In this is highly consistent performance, there are a number of arias that stand out. In Dieu des amants from Mondonville’s opéra-ballet Les Fêtes de Paphos, Santon-Jeffery, with polished expression and a lovely purity, excels as nymph Erigone in love with Bacchus, who makes a heartfelt plea to the god of lovers. From Rameau’s opera Dardanus in the aria Courez à la victoire, the soprano as a Phrygian woman sings splendidly, with conspicuously effective ornamentation. In another Rameau opera Les Paladins with the aria Triste séjour, solitude ennuyeuse of the young woman Argie, Santon-Jeffery demonstrates her ability to soar comfortably to her high register with impressive effect. Another outstanding performance is Venus’s aria Laissons de mon amour from Mondonville’s opéra-ballet Les Fêtes de Paphos. Here Santon-Jeffery expresses, with exquisite tenderness and smooth tone, Venus’s love for the dead Adonis, whom she has turned into a flower.

The twenty-eight strong Purcell Choir’s singing is hard to fault. It is unified and creates significant drama when needed. I particularly enjoyed the chorus Que votre gloire vous rassemble from Mondonville’s Le Carnaval du Parnasse an opéra-ballet; it is stirring and clearly enunciated. Under the direction of György Vashegyi, the Orfeo Orchestra, playing on period instruments, excel from start to finish. The players are stylish and vibrant, and they seem to breathe and perform as a single entity. There is telling support too from the basso continuo comprising of cello, contrabass and harpsichord. The sound is excellent, clear and satisfyingly balanced. Musicologist Benoît Dratwicki is the author of the booklet essay ‘Brillez, astres nouveaux!’, a really first-class, invaluable read.

This is a most accomplished performance by soprano Chantal Santon-Jeffery, which lovers of French baroque opera arias should savour.

Michael Cookson

Bernard de BURY (1720-1785)
Les Caractères de la Folie (1743)
1. Ouverture
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de MONDONVILLE (1711-1772)
Les Fêtes de Paphos (1758)
2. Dieu des amants
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
La Naissance d’Osiris (1754)
3. Musette tendre
Le Temple de la Gloire (1745)
4. Tout rang, tout sexe, tout âge
Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace ROYER (1703-1755)
Le Pouvoir de l’Amour (1743)
5. Quelle vengeance! quelle horreur
Jean-Baptiste CARDONNE (1730-1792)
Omphale (1769)
6. Que le jour pâlissant
7. Que tout serve en ces lieux
8. Premier Air pour les magiciens
9. Pluton répond à nos souhaits
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Les Fêtes d’Hébé (1739)
10. Dieux qui me condamnez
Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace ROYER
Le Pouvoir de l’Amour
11. Ritournelle
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Les Fêtes d’Hébé
12. Veillez sur ces guerriers
13. Dieu tout puissant
Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764)
Scylla et Glaucus (1746)
14. Symphonie pour la descente de Vénus
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Dardanus (1744)
15. Courez à la victoire
Les Fêtes d’Hébé
16. Éclatante trompette, annoncez notre gloire
Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace ROYER
Le Pouvoir de l’Amour
17. Ouverture
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de MONDONVILLE (1711-1772)
Le Carnaval du Parnasse (1749)
18. Que votre gloire vous rassemble
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Les Paladins (1760)
19. Triste séjour, solitude ennuyeuse
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de MONDONVILLE
Les Fêtes de Paphos
20. Laissons de mon amour
Antoine DAUVERGNE (1713-1797)
Canente (1760)
21. Air pour les magiciens
22. Où suis-je? qui prendra ma défense
23. Tremble, c’est l’amour jaloux
24. Qui peut me délivrer
25. Calmez, de vos fureurs
Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace ROYER
Le Pouvoir de l’Amour
26. Marche
Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1689-1755)
Daphnis et Chloé (1747)
27. Cesse de répandre des larmes
Charles-Hubert GERVAIS (1671-1744)
Pomone (1720)
28. Quels doux concerts
Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER
Les Voyages de l’Amour (1736)
29. Doux sommeil…
Polyxène (1763)
30. Premier et deuxième Airs
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Le Temple de la Gloire
31. Vole, charmant Amour
Bernard de BURY
Les Caractères de la Folie
32. Charmant Amour, âme du monde
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Castor et Pollux (1737)
33. Brillez, astres nouveaux!

First recordings for all except tracks 2, 4, 14, 16, 19, 20, 27, 31 & 33

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