The musicians of Arion Orchestre Baroque don frock coat, jabot and pourpoint for a meal with royalty! In collaboration with the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, Arion’s new album — based on the program of their eponymous concert nominated for the Prix Opus 2021-2022 — transports us to the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV, from Versailles to Fontainebleau, in the pomp of royal festivities and the music that accompanied them. Presented on the album are Michel-Richard Delalande, André Cardinal Destouches François-Colin de Blamont, Jean-Philippe Rameau and François Francœur, composers who held various official positions at the French court, with an assemblage of works taken from their collections of dance suites, “opéra-ballet” and “comédie-ballet”.
Typical in form, each excerpt begins with an “Overture” characterized by a dotted rhythm that lends it a noble character. Subsequent excerpts alternate between slow, moderate and lively dances. Thus, after Delalande’s solemn ouverture, the excerpts from his Recueil d’airs take us on an energetic and festive musical journey, echoed in Destouches’ Carnaval et la Folie, where the spirit of festivities and mundane gaiety continues. In contrast, the works of de Blamont and Rameau take us to slower tempi and a slightly more soothing atmosphere, like a dimly lit late evening when the effervescence of banquets fades. A visit to Monseigneur le comte d’Artois’s court to enjoy François Francœur’s Symphonie du festin royal, with its majestic airs and dances, completes this musical panorama.
As Arion’s music superintendent, Mathieu Lussier perfectly captures and captures the spirit of the times, giving this repertoire the relief it needs. In so doing, he provides an insight into the place of music in the royal and political life of the 18th century, in what is a feast of musical fine cuisine, with tunes that remain glued to our auditory palate and can be consumed without moderation.