Composed as entertainments for the Grand Appartements at Versailles, Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Les plaisirs de Versailles and Les Arts Florissants were a combination of chamber opera and royal pageantry, designed to curry favor with the French king, Louis XIV, and to promote Charpentier's career at court. While the motivations behind these pieces are intriguing and shed light on the social life of the aristocracy, listeners today may find the music the most appealing aspect, for Charpentier's light touch and wit make both works scintillating gems of French Baroque opera in its early stage. The Boston Early Music Festival has become closely associated with Charpentier's music, and this CPO recording follows two previous releases by the group, Actéon in 2010, and La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers and La Couronne de Fleurs in 2014. Indeed, the group has been a force for the revival of works by Jean-Baptiste Lully, Johann Georg Conradi, Agostino Steffani, and Johann Sebastiani, all of which benefit from the ensemble's expertise in Baroque performance practices and versatility in this little known repertoire. CPO's sound captures the ambiance of one of Louis' small theaters, bringing intimacy to the singers and creating the impression of a staging at Versailles.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Les Plaisirs de Versailles|
|Les Arts Florissants|