Jean-Philippe Rameau's opéra-ballet Les Indes Galantes premiered in Paris in 1735 but was not a critical success, so the composer prepared a revised version that included an additional act. The five suites the composer extracted are derived from the prologue and four acts, and the brief movements include orchestral arrangements of vocal numbers as well as instrumental pieces. The work displays Rameau's flair for creating evocative and compelling music for the wide variety of the opéra-ballet's dramatic situations, as well as his ear for imaginative orchestration. Familiarity with the plot is not required for appreciating the charms of these colorful miniatures. The Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, led by Frans Brueggen, performs on period instruments with the elegance and crisp precision that's just right for this repertoire and makes the most of the musical and dramatic contrasts between the movements. The CD is short, only 44 minutes, but the Philips recording is not alone in its brevity; the other available recordings are equally brief, missing an opportunity to fill out the CD with orchestral excerpts from other Rameau stage works.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Les Indes galantes, suites from the opéra-ballet for orchestra|