VON OTTER French baroque arias

Share

ANNE SOFIE VON OTTER
Ombre de mon amant
French baroque arias

Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Michel Lambert
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie
Int. Release 04 Jan. 2010
1 CD / Download
0289 477 8610 8 CD DDD AH
ARCHIV Produktion

Grammy® nomination

“Ombre de mon amant” has been nominated for America’s most prestigious music award in the category Best Classical Vocal Performance. The winners will be chosen by The Recording Academy’s voting membership and announced at the 53rd Annual Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on February 13, 2011.



Track List

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1634 - 1704)
Medée

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Acte II

Scène 2

Michel Lambert (1610 - 1696)
Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1634 - 1704)
Concert [Suite] pour quatre parties de violes, H. 545

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Medée

Acte III

Scène 3

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Scène 4

Anne Sofie von Otter, William Christie, Orchestre Les Arts florissants

Scène 5

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Scène 6

Anne Sofie von Otter, Thibaut Lenaerts, Michael-Loughlin Smith, Laurent Collobert, Marduk Serrano Lopi, William Christie, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, Choeur Les Arts florissants

Scène 7

Anne Sofie von Otter, Thibaut Lenaerts, Michael-Loughlin Smith, Laurent Collobert, Marduk Serrano Lopi, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Concert [Suite] pour quatre parties de violes, H. 545

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Concert [Suite] pour quatre parties de violes, H. 545

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764)
Hippolyte et Aricie

Act 3

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Les fêtes d'Hébé

Act 1

Scène 5

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Scène 4

Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Scène 8

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Act 2

Scène 5

William Christie, Orchestre Les Arts florissants

27.
0:00
3:48

Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Hippolyte et Aricie

Act 4

Anne Sofie von Otter, Thibaut Lenaerts, Michael-Loughlin Smith, Laurent Collobert, Marduk Serrano Lopi, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie, Choeur Les Arts florissants

Michel Lambert (1610 - 1696)
Anne Sofie von Otter, Orchestre Les Arts florissants, William Christie

Total Playing Time 1:04:57

As the titular anti-heroine of Charpentier's Médée, she plumbs the depths of villainous tragedy with an energetic relish. But it's the pastoral airs by Michel Lambert which provide the greatest pleasure, particularly "Ma bergère est tendre et fidèle", a lilting dance of voice and harpsichord, and "Ombre de mon amant", a sombre air accompanied by viola da gamba, in which Von Otter's limpid tones melt away in the final bars.

Splendiferous her voice certainly is; von Otter is on prime form here, in repertoire she has apparently only recently embraced. Her French is impeccable, the sense of style acute, her characterization of the different roles she is playing is insightful . . .

The aristocratic poise and intensity of passion that come together in two of the French Baroque¿s great tragic heroines are compellingly conveyed by Anne Sofie von Otter in these prudently chosen opera excerpts. With William Christie drawing his characteristic colour, grace and rhythmic élan from Les Arts Florissants, the scenes from Marc-Antoine Charpentier¿s Médée and Rameau¿s Hippolyte et Aricie spring vividly to life. The elements of dance that underpin so much of the music are crisply and buoyantly characterised, with, for example, a lustiness to the appearance of Jealousy and Vengeance in Act 3 of Médée, and a mellifluous lilt to the chanson à danser, Celle qui fait mon tourment. This beguiling spirit is echoed in Rameau¿s opéra-ballet Les Fêtes d¿Hébé ou Les Talens lyriques, as much in the vocal numbers as in the purely instrumental ones. Christie¿s infallible feel for style elucidates the refinement of texture and brings out delightful detail in the shape, for instance, of limpid pastoral flutes or the busy string lines in L¿Amour¿s virtuoso ariette Vole Zéphire in Les Fêtes d¿Hébé and the gathering momentum of the scene that follows . . . With three airs by Michel Lambert . . . there is terrific variety here. Von Otter has spoken of her love affair with the French Baroque and it is something that she avows in her singing, which can range from anger to the tenderest pensiveness, from lofty seriousness to whimsicality. This a captivating programme, performed with finesse and radiance.

Von Otter the Swedish mezzo has mined her deep well of experience to record some of the most dramatic singing of French Baroque opera imaginable. Each vowel, ornament and phrase has been shaped into a narrative dart meant to pierce the listener's soul . . . William Christie and Les Arts Florissants provide sparkling accompaniment and instrumental passages from the operas.

Anne Sofie von Otter's recital with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie may be the start of a grand passion . . . Impeccably accompanied, this is a tour de force from opera's Meryl Streep.

Von Otter's nuanced singing puts a premium on word coloration and treats vibrato as an expressive resource . . . Von Otter makes a cathartic experience of "Queue plainte en ces lieux m'appelle", in which the devastated Phèdre learns of and acknowledges responsibility for Hippolyte's (supposed) death . . .Von Otter's vivid singing gets to the heart of each one.

. . . excellent recital . . . Von Otter sounds utterly wretched in Medea's lament for her lost love; then she intensifies her tone as she summons up demons and monsters . . . Von Otter conveys Phaedra's various emotions with consummate skill.

Words are given proper emphasis, the soft singing is ravishing . . . The orchestra is given several opportunities to demonstrate its prowess, as it features in almost a third of the CD and once again proves it is among the best.

[Claudia Dasche]: Wehmütig, schmerzvoll, sinnlich und sanft, so klingt die Liebe in all ihren Facetten, wenn Anne Sofie von Otter sie besingt. Mit einer unglaublich ausdrucksstarken Stimme verleiht die schwedische Mezzosopranistin in französischen Barockarien dem "Schatten ihres Geliebten" auch im 21. Jahrhundert Gehör.
[Uwe Golz]: Man kann Arien singen, Anne Sofie von Otter erleidet und erlebt sie. Begleitet vom Ensemble Les Arts Florissants serviert uns die Mezzosopranistin einen emotionalen Hörschmaus französischer Barockarien über die Liebe. Eine Tour de Force zwischen Himmelhoch jauchzend und zu Tode betrübt.

Die gereifte Stimme Anne Sofie von Otters hat ihren Zenit keineswegs überschritten . . . [sie überzeugt] durch ihre textbezogene Gestaltungsintelligenz. Und das Ensemble Les Arts Florissants begeistert wie eh und je, äußerst raffiniert und souverän in seinen Artikulationsdetails.

Hier geht es nicht um Virtuosität, sondern um Ausdruck. Das weiß keiner besser als der Großmeister der Franco-Perlen, William Christie, der mit erlesener Eleganz über sein Ensemble Les Arts Florissantes gebietet. Und die Otter lässt die Preziosen von Charpentier, Rameau und Lambert von innen heraus leiden und leuchten.

Otter besticht auch hier, ist sie doch nicht die blasse Klischeefigur lyrischer Antikendramen, sondern die aus ihrem Gefühlskerker ausbrechende Tragödin, ein Monster emotionaler Unbedingtheit. In Arien und Szenen aus "Medée" und "Hippolyte et Aricie" formt Anne Sofie von Otters betörend deklamatorische Vokalkunst die beiden Frauen mit zerrissenem Innenleben, gepeinigt von Seelenqualen, die sich ausbreiten in farbigstem Raffinement orchestraler Begleitung: Hier sind Altmeister William Christie und seine brillanten Les Arts Florissants in ihrem Element. Dazwischen, zur Auflockerung, hinreißende Tanzsätze aus beiden Opern . . .

Sie kann einen Abba-Song genauso anrührend singen wie eine Bach-Arie . . . Und wieder schwebt ihre Stimme in eigenen Sphären.

. . . Ihr Blickfeld ist weit, ihre Programme . . . zeugen von Klugheit und dem Sinn für ausgefeilte Dramaturgien . . . Anne Sofie von Otter erweist sich . . . als subtile Gestalterin, spielt mit Nuancen und Klangfarben, wechselt zwischen delikat intimer Haltung und bewusst gesetzter theatralischer Pose. Die gelegentlich manierierte, auch karikierend wirkende Überzeichnung . . . [ist] dem Stil durchaus adäquat.

Es ist, als hätten die Arien von Charpentier, Lambert und Rameau nur auf Anne Sofie von Otters Intelligenz und Sentiment gewartet, denn sie nimmt ihnen den falschen Schein und reduziert das angelegte Pompöse immer auf einen persönlichen Moment: Hier begegnet man Menschen, nicht Monstern (Medea, Phädra). Und dennoch vernimmt man, wie der Hölle Rache in von Otters Herzen kocht. Für einen gewissen Temperaturausgleich sorgt der sorgsam wie stets mit den Fingerspitzen dirigierende William Christie. Von viel Leid und von noch mehr Liebe ist folgerichtig die Rede auf diesem kostbaren Album . . . beim Hören [muss man] die Luft anhalten . . .

Ein langes Seufzen, Sehnen, Klagen, Zagen durchweht diese neue CD, auf der die schwedische Mezzosopranistin mit ihren Arien Heldinnen, Müttern, Geliebten und Rachegöttinnen Leben einhaucht. Todtraurig klingt fast alles hier, sehr anrührend auch, wie das melancholische "Ombre de mon amant" des wenig bekannten Lambert. Aber auch sehr mitreißend und leidenschaftlich, wenn die von Les Arts Florissants begleitete Otter als Charpentiers Medée durch deren Rachearie tobt.

. . . im Zentrum steht die dramatische Deklamation, ein subtiles Spiel mit Stimmungen und Farben, mit textlichen und musikalischen Nuancen. Und genau hier erweist sich Anne Sofie von Otter als wahre Meisterin. Die nach wie vor klar und unverbraucht klingende Stimme verfügt über ein schier unbegrenztes Spektrum an Klangfarben, ist zu immer neuen Schattierungen fähig, ohne dass solche Subtilitäten je manieriert klingen würden . . . Hinzukommt in jedem Moment idiomatische französische Aussprache und ein tiefes Verständnis für die Feinheiten des Textes, von dem sich mancher Muttersprachler "eine Scheibe abschneiden" könnte. Doch nicht nur die Leistung der Solisten macht diese CD zum Ereignis, sondern ebenso die Begleitung durch William Christie und seine Arts Florissants. Wie nur wenige andere verstehen es die Musiker, hinter den starren Regeln der barocken Rhetorik tiefe Gefühle aufzuspüren. So machen sie auch diese gänzlich unspektakulären Musiknummern zu faszinierenden musikalischen Erlebnissen.

Elle met au service de Médée et de Phèdre (extraits d¿Hippolyte et Aricie) les multiples couleurs de sa voix, son sens du mot, sa science des styles, les riches facettes de son tempérament scénique, pour murmurer la plainte, clamer l¿exaltation, l¿amour au ventre et la rage de la magicienne. Son français est impeccable . . .

. . . réalisé dans la plénitude d'une voix désormais vulnérable mais tonifiée par une intelligence qui lui permet de retrouver ses marques partout où la musique fait sens à travers les mots. En trois notes a cappella de Charpentier, Anne Sotie von Otter campe un personnage, sa fantaisie, sa folie douce, sa tendresse: dans le meilleur des mon dos possibles, on ferait entendre le minuscule "Celte qui fait tout mon tourment" dans toutes les classes de chant, en conseillant aux apprenties divas qui n'ont pas cette capacité d'entendre e mot (à la fois sa couleur et son enjeu dans le discours) de ne pas perdre leur temps en vocalises . . . "Ombre de mon amant" fascine : plainte hagarde chantée depuis l'autre morde, avec ce précieux masochisme qui caresse chaque "hélas" comme le plus doux objet.
    “Ombre de mon amant"

    Anne Sofie von Otter sings French Baroque Airs and Scènes

    French Baroque music, with its combination of Watteau-like colours, poetic finesse and exuberant dancing rhythms, has sparked what Anne Sofie von Otter has described as a “new love affair" for her, a telling phrase that reflects all that is most sensual and seductive about this style. It is a love that has deep roots, however, whose first stirrings were felt at the very outset of her career: “I had my first experience of Rameau very early on, when I heard Harnoncourt's recording of Castor et Pollux, and I immediately fell for the French Baroque language. I went on to sing some 17th-century airs de cour, but after that I didn't think about it any more until the Rameau Gala at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 2002 organized by Marc Minkowski. I was asked to sing Phèdre, which was my first encounter with French Baroque opera, and that was when I fell in love with it. When I sang 'Quelle plainte en ces lieux m'appelle?', it was for me a really wonderful experience."

    That scene for Phèdre (Phaedra), in Rameau's first opera Hippolyte et Aricie, encapsulates the beauty of this music for von Otter: “The orchestral colours in Rameau are magical - listen to the way the flutes are used in Phèdre's third-act air - and I find the declamatory style and ornamentation enormously attractive. The music is seductive without being intrusive; it's extremely graceful and very dancelike. And then Phèdre's situation, her unrequited love, is something I can identify with - isn't it something we've all felt?" In Act III, Phèdre, convinced that her husband, King Thésée (Theseus), has perished, first addresses a plea to Venus for forgiveness (“Cruelle mère des amours"), then overcomes her feelings of guilt to confess to Hippolyte (Hippolytus), Thésée's son by his first marriage, that she loves him. The king has not in fact died, but is led to believe that Hippolyte has taken advantage of Phèdre during his absence. Thésée now calls on Neptune to punish his son. It is the (actually false) news that Hippolyte has been killed by a sea-monster that the chorus announces to a guilt-wracked Phèdre in “Quelle plainte", her great final scene in G minor, the key that, according to theories of the time, was reserved for music that was “sérieux et magnifique".

    Rameau was 50 when he broke his operatic silence in 1733 with Hippolyte et Aricie, but went on to compose a wealth of dramatic works over the following three decades. Charpentier, on the other hand, lived in the period of Lully's hegemony over music in Paris in the latter part of the 17th century, and although his output includes a sacred opera, pastorales and incidental music, he composed only one tragédie lyrique for Lully's Académie Royale de Musique, his Médée of 1693. Like Phèdre, the heroine, Medea, is a woman who has lived and loved, another aspect that makes these roles so attractive for the singer. “They're not young and naïve, but more mature women, and this makes for a very good mix of feelings. And then true mezzo roles in Rameau are very rare, since he writes mostly for soprano". The first Phèdre was Marie Antier, who was in her 40s when she created the role. According to contemporaries, she had initially “charmed everyone with the range and beauty of her voice, but to make her a great actress as well it took the coaching of Demoiselle Le Rochois". Marie Le Rochois had in turn been admired “in the roles of Princess, Sorceress and Divinity" - including Médée, which she sang at the premiere of Charpentier's opera. Médée has taken refuge with Jason in Corinth, but there King Créon offers Jason his daughter Créuse, and asks Médée to leave the city on the pretext that his people are alarmed by her murderous reputation and skills as a sorceress (which she had previously used to help Jason obtain the golden fleece). In her Act II air (“Princesse, c'est sur vous"), a compliant Médée has agreed to leave Corinth, and her two children, behind, but by Act III she has become convinced of Jason's infidelity. In a long scene she overcomes her feelings of despair at the miserable reward for all her love and sacrifice (“Quel prix de mon amour") and decides to break all ties with Jason. In a sonorous incantation (“Noires filles du Styx") she summons up demons from hell. They duly appear, bringing a cauldron in which a poison is mixed that Médée then uses to coat a dress she will give to Créuse.

    In the wake of the revelation of Rameau's Phèdre, von Otter took this scene for Médée by Charpentier into her concert repertoire at Stockholm's Konserthus, and then went on to place both works at the dramatic core of the present programme, devised with William Christie and performed at the 2008 Edinburgh and Lucerne festivals. The inclusion of dance numbers is no mere framing-device: dance was central to French Baroque music - one need only think of the emergence of the Baroque suite from the instrumental numbers in Lully's operas - and it acquired even greater significance in the specific genre of opéra-ballet, cultivated in the early decades of the 18th century and represented here by Rameau's rather later Les Fêtes d'Hébé of 1739. In a prologue, a dissatisfied Hébé (the gods' cupbearer) leaves Olympus for the Seine, pursued by Momus, god of satire, where in three acts or entrées, poetry, music and dance (the three arts or “talens lyriques" of the subtitle) are explored.

    The teacher of many of the leading opera singers during the reign of Louis XIV (including, in all likelihood, Marie Le Rochois) was Michel Lambert, a prolific composer of the beautiful solo airs which, like the “chanson à danser" and the lively “chansonnette" (represented here by Charpentier's earthy “Auprès du feu l'on fait l'amour") are all part of the range of styles on which Baroque opera was able to draw. Lambert's songs were the first French Baroque music that von Otter performed: “I sang some of these airs very early on in my career, and then took them up again on the suggestion of the harpsichordist Jory Vinikour, to include in my concerts of Baroque melodies. In fact, it was Jory who recommended to me the lovely 'Vos mépris chaque jour'". This chaconne-based air is here framed by the melancholy outpouring of “Ombre de mon amant" and, in a fitting Arcadian conclusion, the pastoral “Ma bergère est tendre et fidèle".

    Kenneth Chalmers
    11/2009