The absolute summit of polyphonic art, Bach's motets exult with a joy that may be found surprising when one knows their most frequent liturgical use: at funeral ceremonies. Taking up the invitation of the Motets BWV 225, Raphaël pichon and his musicians draw us into their jubilant interpretation, a true hymn to the dance skilfully juxtaposed with the great tradition of the German motet. The collective work undertaken by Pygmalion on both the stylistic and the textual aspects does full justice to this choral exuberance.
The lavish princely entertainment that were given in Italy since the Renaissance, and in particular at the Medici Court in Florence, were famous througout Europe. The musical interludes that adorned them were already true dramatic masterpieces which marvelously combined music and poetry. They set a frame for the birth of the Italian Opera, Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607) being their direct heir with it's almost perfect achitecture, the depth of its expression and the immanent beauty of its music. Raphaël Pichon invites you to discover these Italian splendours, by imagining a princely interlude conceived with the most sumptuous pieces of music of the turn of the 1600s that is both true opera scenes but also gigantic polychoral pieces for thirty voices. All of them filmed in the Hall of Mirrors of the Château de Versailles.
This first masterpiece of sacred music is undoubtedly the mythical Vespers of Monteverdi first published in Venice in 1610. Quintessential of the great Italian polychoral style of writing, with its choirs, initially distributed throughout the entire volume of the Basilica San Marco for spectacular effects, the Vespers are here raised to the heavenly spheres by Raphaël Pichon: every aspect of the Royal Chapel of Versailles (1710) is being put to use to magnify the music echoing from the Royal Tribune to that of the Great Organ.
Between Die Entführung aus dem Serail and the advent of the famous 'Da Ponte trilogy', Mozart threw himself frantically into the search for the right libretto, capable of taking the spectator to lands still unexplored where the drama and the psychology of the characters would be sublimated by the music. Hence, in the years between 1782 and 1786, he set up a veritable laboratory for dramatic music: a musical corpus of concert arias, sketches, and stylistic exercises like the canon - here brilliantly organised as an imaginary dramma giocoso in three scenes, each heraldinf in its own way one of the summits to come: Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così.
Raphaël Pichon has invited Stéphane Degout to make his recording debut for harmonia mundi in a multifaceted exploration of the Underworld. The French baritone reincarnates the figure of Henri Larrivée, the famous tragedian of Rameau and Gluck. Around a reconstruction of an imaginary Mass of the Dead, sacred and secular merge, revealing some of the most extraordinary pieces from the operatic repertory of the Enlightenment. Music of death and mourning on an epic scale that inspires Pygmalion to overwhelming height of pathos.
The funeral of Louis XIV mirrored his reign: gradiose and filled with pathos. Raphaël Pichon has choen the setting of the Chapelle Royale in Versailles, built "for the use" of the Sun King, to present a musical reconstruction of the event, with chiaroscuro lighting designs by Bertrand Couderc. Solemn grands motets like the De profundis and Dies irae of Michel-Richard de Lalande and the poignant Marche funèbre pour le Convoy du Roy by André Danican Philidor are juxtaposed with rarely heard music by Jean Colin, Louis Chein and Charles d'Helfer.
1647: with Rossi’sOrfeo, France discovered Italian opera! Although the disastrous financial consequences of this publicity stunt by Mazarin helped to precipitate the events of the Fronde rebellion, things went quite differently in the orchestra pit. When the Italian and French musicians joined forces, something magical happened; and it is precisely that magic which Raphaël Pichon and Pygmalion recreate here, thanks to a skilful reconstruction and a vibrant, multi-coloured orchestra that bring life and relief to each character.
Late sixteenth-century Florence was a theatre: first and foremost a political one, in the eyes of the dynasties that wished to use the arts to display their power. A humanist one too, as is shown by these intermedi (interludes) that sought to achieve the perfect blend between music and poetry, the ideal of a certain Renaissance.
A major source of inspiration for writers and painters (Hugo, Nerval, Heine, Eichendorff, Turner) and above all composers throughout Romantic Europe, the legends of the Rhine still enthral our imaginations even today. The Ensemble Pygmalion and Raphaël Pichon invite us on a fantastic voyage through famous works (including Wagner) and others, much more rarely recorded, that are absolute gems of the repertory for female voices.
Once again, Sabine Devieilhe is telling a love story in music – this time with the help of Mozart. The scintillating French soprano’s debut album on Erato, Le grand théâtre de l’amour, created a fictional narrative with music by Rameau. By contrast, Mozart - The Weber Sisters is rooted in Mozart’s life story and includes music inspired by Aloysia, Konstanze and Josepha Weber, three soprano sisters whom Mozart first met in the German city of Mannheim in 1777, when he was 21. Though he initially fell in love with Aloysia, who went on to become a celebrated diva, it was Konstanze who became his wife; she outlived him by nearly 50 years and did much to sustain and build his reputation after his death.
At the height of the famous Querelle des Bouffons (1754), the elderly Rameau yielded to insistent requests from the Académie Royale de Musique for a major revision of Castor and Pollux, 17 years after the lukewarm reception of its premiere. He deleted the Prologue and made substantial modifications to the dramatic structure, with a completely new first act! But the original has conti- nued to overshadow the revision, unjustly so when one considers the moder- nity of its orchestration. The inspired direction of Raphaël Pichon shows the extent to which this music heralds the Classical orchestra.
When Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen died in 1728, his former Kapellmeister had not forgotten the five brilliant years he had spent in the prince’s service. He dedicated to his memory a mourning cantata almost entirely based on the music of two major works of the mid-1720s, the Trauer-Ode and the St Matthew Passion. Although the score is lost, the wordbook and other sources of information have now made it possible to reconstruct the work. In his first recording for harmonia mundi, Raphaël Pichon invites us on an exciting musical treasure hunt.
After the exploration of Bach’s ‘five’ Missae Breves concluding with the success of the original version of the B minor Mass, Ensemble Pygmalion has recorded Rameau’s Dardanus following a series of concerts unanimously hailed by the critics.
Although superior from the dramatic point of view, this second version of Dardanus proposed by Pygmalion has never, until the present day, been resurrected, with the exception of the famous aria ‘Lieux funestes’ from Act IV. A new edition was carried out (by Gilles Rico) based on the 1744 edition, also incorporating the numerous variants integrated by Rameau between 1744 and 1760, as he constantly strove to enrich the music’s emotional power.
Originally stemming totally from the restrictive form of Lully’s tragédie lyrique but also attesting to a pronounced taste for ‘extraordinary stories’, this work presents a more intimate, human sense of the drama, thereby tracing a very clear path towards the psychological explorations of the Classical era.
In the Baroque musical landscape, Pygmalion is the major revelation of these last few years. In the tradition of the greatest conductors, Raphaël Pichon, has realized one of the most accomplished cycles of the ‘five’ Missae Breves, including the Mass in B minor in its original ‘brief’ version of 1733.
On the occasion of the ensemble’s first opera release, Alpha is offering you the opportunity to (re)discover the complete cycle at a special price.
The Ensemble Pygmalion continues its interpretative work on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, proposing the Mass in B minor, BWV 232 in its version of 1733. The Magnificat in D major, one of Bach's most popular sacred works, composed c.1730, begins and ends with two powerful choral movements between which vocal and instrumental soloists carry on a dialogue in keeping with formulas that are continually varied, displaying an astounding richness of invention.
Pygmalion's first recording for Alpha, with Bach's Missae Breves BWV 234 and 235 (ALPHA 130) was received very enthusiastically by the critics and awarded, in particular, the Diapason d'Or of the Year 2008 and the Orphée d'Or 2008 by the Académie du Disque Lyrique.
Given the work's historical importance, this third recording by the ensemble is also the occasion for Raphaël Pichon to show the extent of his maturity, placing him in the front rank of today's young conductors.
After the success of the “Missae Breves, vol. I” (Alpha 130), released in 2008 and awarded with a “Diapason d’Or de l’Année”, the release of the second volume is of very special significance, both for Alpha and for Pygmalion.
The Missae Breves from J.S. Bach have been considered as “pastiches” for a long time. Nevertheless, they are expressions of a musical genius. Whatever the purpose they have been written for, these “Lutherian Masses” are a fascinating discovery.
First recording of a newly created ensemble, Pygmalion, under the direction of Raphaël Pichon. Their youthful enthusiasm, coupled with surprising maturity, led us to entrust to this newcomer in the world of baroque music the interpretation two of JS Bach's short masses. The integrity and liveliness of Pygmalion's interpretations make them into a major actor of the Baroque musical landscape. The four Missa Brevis of Johann Sebastian Bach (the 2nd set to be recorded in November 2009) are highlights of 18th century musical literature although they've been neglected in recorded versions. This CD will become an absolute classic !