Monday, June 25, 2012 by Craig Zeichner
This recording of suites from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s tragédie en musique Dardanus and his opéra-ballet Le temple de la gloire is one of the first releases on Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra’s new label. Rameau’s music with its daring harmonies and colorful orchestration is an ideal vehicle for this most virtuosic of period instrument ensembles.
The Dardanus suite that opens the album features the Ouverture and fifteen dances from Rameau’s 1739 tragédie en musique. The stately Ouverture is played with pomp and a polished elegance that perfectly sets the tone for the set of dances that follow. Some of the highlights include a rhythmically perky set of Tambourins nicely driven by the snappy percussion of David Campion, a meltingly lovely Rondeau tendre and a courtly Chaconne that closes the suite and serves as a good bookend to the Ouverture.
As befits the title, the suite from Le temple de la gloire, is festive music that’s brightly scored for trumpets, horns, flutes and strings. Celebrating the victory of French forces over the British at the Battle of Fontenoy during the War of Austrian Succession, Le temple de la gloire is packed with joyous dances and martial airs. Any fan of Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music or Roman’s Drottningholmsmusiken will relish this.
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra has been one of the preeminent period instrument orchestras for the longest time and this is one of their finest achievements. Avid collectors will know these performances were once available on a difficult to find CBC recording (made in 2001), but it’s great that Tafelmusik is launching their new label by making them available to a wider audience.