Carolyn Sampson, Ex Cathedra, Jeffrey Skidmore – A French Baroque Diva (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 72:55 minutes | 1,36 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Artwork: Digital booklet | Source: Hyperion

This album featuring Carolyn Sampson and Ex Cathedra showcases works written for the foremost soprano of the French Baroque, Marie Fel. Voltaire called her his “adorable nightingale”. Fel held an entire generation spellbound at the Paris Opera and at Louis XV’s court during one of the most glorious periods of French music. She inspired some of Rameau’s finest music and introduced a whole new level of virtuosity and expression into the French singing tradition. Her long, triumphant career is traced through this fascinating recording.

Both the music and especially the central figure on this release by British soprano Carolyn Sampson will be largely unfamiliar to most listeners, for the vocal music of the French Baroque has received many fewer contextual studies on recordings than its English and Italian counterparts. Marie Fel was the star singer of mid-18th century Paris, a Bordeaux native who was discovered by an agent of the Paris Opera when she was 20. Roughly as Senesino was to Handel, she was an inspiration to Rameau, and many other composers wrote for her as well. Sampson tries to penetrate Fel’s musicality, and the album is not just a compilation of works associated with her. She sings a sacred aria (Joseph Hector Fiocco’s Laudate pueri, track 12) with the ornamentation Fel herself wrote out, and she even ventures into the Occitan language, which Fel spoke natively, for the extremely unusual Gasouillats auzeléts by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville (track 11). Speakers of Occitan are invited to judge her pronunciation (an English translation is included), but even those with no particular interest in the history of singing will be struck by the variety of Fel’s repertoire, which ranged from the older Lully style of French opera to the bright simplicity of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Salve regina of 1752 (not a common item either). Sampson’s voice is not absolutely comfortable when forced to do acrobatics at the top of its range, but for the most part she lives up to d’Aquin’s description of Fel’s instrument as “always lovely, always seductive.” Her range is matched by that of the instrumental group Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore, which is called upon to deliver a variety of theatrical effects. Highly recommended.

01 – Philomèle – Prologue Scene 1: Ah! quand reviendront nos beaux jours?
02 – Exsurgat Deus, S71 – Movement 5: Regna terrae
03 – Te Deum laudamus, S32 – Movement 01: Sinfonie
04 – Te Deum laudamus, S32 – Movement 08: Tu rex gloriae
05 – Te Deum laudamus, S32 – Movement 09: Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem
06 – Salve regina – Part 1: Salve regina, salve mater
07 – Salve regina – Part 2: Ad te clamamus, exsules, filii Evae
08 – Salve regina – Part 3: O clemens, o pia
09 – Castor et Pollux – Act 1 Scenes 2-3: Un tendre intérêt vous appelle – Tristes apprêts
10 – Platée – Act 3 Scene 4: Amour, lance tes traits
11 – Daphnis et Alcimadure – Act 1 Scene 2: Gasouillats auzeléts
12 – Laudate pueri – Part 1: Laudate pueri
13 – Laudate pueri – Part 3: A solis ortu
14 – Laudate pueri – Part 4: Alleluia
15 – Venite, exsultemus – Movement 4: Venite, adoremus
16 – La lyre enchantée – No 1: Accordez vos sons et vos pas
17 – La lyre enchantée – No 2: Gavotte: Lyre enchanteresse
18 – La lyre enchantée – No 3: Écoutons … D’un doux frémissement
19 – La lyre enchantée – No 4: Vole, Amour, prête-moi tes armes
20 – La lyre enchantée – No 5: Contredanse
21 – Cantate Domino, S72 – Movement 5: Viderunt omnes termini terrae
22 – Venite, exsultemus – Movement 6: Hodie si vocem

Produced by Adrian Peacock. Engineered by David Hinitt.
Recorded in June 2013 at All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, U.K.

Carolyn Sampson – soprano
Ex Cathedra – Conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore


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