Pascal Colasse et Louis Lully – Le Ballet des Saisons
Me plaindrai-je toujours, Amour, sous ton empire ?
François Colin de Blamont – Endymion
Dans nos forêts tout plaît, tout enchante
Press round up :
"En esta música bellísima predominan, claro está, los afectos más sensibles y delicados, con un programa muy imaginativo colmado de novedades muy bienvenidas.(...) Virginie Thomas muestra una maravillosa adecuación a estos rôles légers de los que nos habla Dratwicki: refinada, delicada, expresiva y contenida al tiempo, resulta ideal para los exquisitos números vocales." Javier Sarría Pueyo - Scherzo
Of all nature’s nymphs - water, forest and marsh to name but three - I have a funny feeling that it may have been a garden nymph who played fairy godmother to this record. It was when I was putting together a chamber music programme for the open-air concerts at the Dans Les Jardins de William Christie festival that these bucolic, sensual and rather mischievous characters began to flit across my mind. They seemed to echo the site’s own magic and they also crop up in rather a lot of French Baroque tragédies lyriques and opéras-ballets.
The enthusiastic response to this first concert then led to the idea of combining these miniature scenes into a recording, so I began following the footsteps of these nymphs, naiads and dryads, across a century of music - it was a bit like a kind of paper chase!
Rather than a mere catalogue of nymphs’ airs, I wanted to conjure up the atmosphere that surrounds them, to recreate scenes offering a combination of dances, ariettas and choruses, so that there would be a variety of ambiances, orchestra sizes and colours.
In the end I decided to collect them into a little opera with a prologue and three acts, chronologically reflecting the way that the genre developed between 1674 and 1753.
The record opens with Desmarest’s Circé (1694), where the “Nymph of the Seine emerging from the water” (a stage direction in the libretto), aided and abetted by the Nymph of the Tuileries (Lully’s Alceste - 1674), invites the listener to stop and explore the wonderful world in which they live. The three acts alternate between airs that invite us to enjoy the pleasures afforded by life and freedom, and others that are more serious, in which the protagonist is in thrall to the torment of love - “Let us sigh, everything says we should / Let us give ourselves up to all our desires”, sings the Dryad in Campra’s Tancrède (1702); “Our life / Should make us the envy of all! / True happiness / Is keeping your heart” repeat the nymphs in Lully’s Proserpine (1680); “Oh Love, shall I forever groan underneath your yoke? / Will you never grant my wishes?" laments Orithie in Colasse’s Les Saisons (1695); “Deceitful vows, tender words / Ah, how dangerous it is to pay you too much mind”, sighs Scylla in Leclair’s Scylla and Glaucus (1746). The nymph Clarine (Rameau’s Platée - 1745) ends the programme exhorting the sun to make way for darkness and silence.There are harpsichord pieces to round off these pictures, acting as a kind of echo, commentary or punctuation - Les Idées Heureuses (Couperin) reminds us of the feelings expressed by the nymphs, Les Cyclopes (Rameau) illustrates the grandiose arrival of Alpheus in pursuit of the distraught nymph Arethusa, and finally La Flore (Couperin) conjures up one of their names.