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Lully: Les Divertissements de Versailles

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 May 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CLASSICAL
  • ASIN: B000063TE8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,515 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Format: Audio CD
Considering his historical importance as the founder of French Baroque opera, it is perhaps surprising that Jean-Baptiste Lully has not received the same degree of attention on disc as his rivals and followers. The revival of French Baroque music which has been such a phenomenon over the last two or three decades has only rarely paid him much attention. Listeners seem to find the harmonic daring of Marc-Antoine Charpentier or the incredible colour and imagination of Jean-Philippe Rameau far more to their taste. Lully's suave, well-crafted music is often dismissed as bland beside the music of these figures and that of Lully's English follower, Purcell. But as this well-filled (78 minutes) disc of extracts from the whole range of his stage music demonstrates, Lully was a considerable and innovative composer in his own right. If you are new to Lully, this is the ideal place to start.
The new recording tells the story of how this ambitious, and frequently ruthless, young Florentine transformed himself into a French citizen and friend of "Le Roi Soleil", just as he transformed the Italian opera of the mid-seventeenth century into something uniquely Gallic. Lully began by catering to the young King Louis XIV's mania for dance with a series of comedies-ballets written in collaboration with Moliere. Extracts from two of them, "Georges Dandin" and "L'Amour Medecin" are included here, where the Italian influence is still strong with plenty of lively comedy. This phase of Lully's career culminated with the amazing five-hour extravaganza, "Psyche", in 1671. Two powerful choruses from this divertissement start the disc.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 18 Aug. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A previous reviewer, Kicek&Brys has written beautifully of this wonderful cd, and offered a great review. This cd, featuring "great operatic scenes" offers selected pieces from Lully's works for music theatre written during his role at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Musical selections are from:
Psyche
L'Amour Medecin
George Dandin
Armide
Les Plaisirs de L'Ile Enchantee
Isis
Ballet des Muses
Roland

Les Arts Florissants, under William Christie play this music beautifully, empathetically and with a great consideration to Lully's own context. The voices and soloists are also brilliant. A great little booklet offers information on the pieces, as well as all the words and translations which is a nice touch. Definitely recommended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This year we had to study Lully as part of a course in the beginnings of Opera. And Lully, with his monopoly on musical entertainment in the French court, and by extension the whole of France, created a French version of Opera that favoured a highly accented and declamatory recitative following the dramatic pronunciations of famous French actors and actresses at the time.

To be honest, I do not find Lully's music very interesting - I once tried to sit through a whole Lully opera on the radio and by the middle I wanted to die. This CD then, which brings together the finest musical scenes from his operas, is perfect. Wonderfully performed in energetic and 'authentic' Baroque style by the renowned Les Arts Florissants, it brings the music to life. I've given the CD four stars rather than five just because of the music, not the performance.

Notable for me was the chorus from Isis, 'L'Hiver Qui Nous Tourment', which probably inspired the very similar 'See, see we assemble' chorus from Purcell's dramatick opera King Arthur, also available on a brilliant recording from Les Arts Florissants (Purcell: King Arthur).

If you hear people talk about Lully but don't know what the heck they're on about (like me), then buy this CD and your self-improvement will I'm sure pay dividends. This recording is also really useful for students who need some examples for their course, and final exam, as the CD liner notes have the libretto from each of the opera scenes.

If on a first listen, you do find yourself tiring of the music on this CD, give it time and listen to individual snippets. Just think what it would have been like had you bought a whole Lullian opera!
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