This couple of CDs comes from a public concert, whose aim, I think, was not "intellectual", but mainly that of entertaining a large audience with enjoyable music and a lively performance.
My 5 stars are then aligned with the perspective of entertainement, not that of a philological disquisition about french opera or baroque music. In this perspective, I think Haim and all other performers did really well.
The chosen repertoire is well mixed: it matches a lot of famous arie (e.g. Purcell's Sound of Trumpet, Haendel's Lascia ch'io pianga, Fammi combattere and Hallalujah...) and some less known (I am sorry for French friends, but Rameau and Lulli are well below Haendel's ranking as fame and recognizability). Personally, I arrived to this CD without knowing french baroque music, and it was a serendipity, as I found several arie that tantalized me to approach these new (for me) composers.
Anyhow, all toghether the mix is charming, most of all because the interpreters are an all-star team of the baroque repertoire. Maybe here they are not always at their top, but a disc where you can find Dessay, Von Otter, Petibon, Lehtipuu, Jaroussky, Hallberg, Mingardo, Villazon and Piau is worth of being at least listened!
I did not always agree with Haim's paces: I often found them quite too hurried, but that didn't stop the enjoyment and, sometimes, it led me to a new way of thinking some known motifs.
So, be warned: if you are looking for something refined, terribly serious, intellectually deep, this is not the disc for you. Definitely not if you are not ready to accept the Hallelujah chorus sung by the public; not if you are not intrigued by a latin-american version of Sound the Trumpet (sung by a charming, brilliant and ironic Jaroussky); not if you are not curious of an entrée comique for Rameau's Platée involving a phone call.
Well, the public enjoyed all this stuff, and so did I. I hope you too...