The subsidiary figure of Cardenio in the novel Don Quixote -- a sort of romantic fool to match Quixote's wider madness -- had quite an afterlife in European literature and drama. Shakespeare may have written a play about him, now lost. The music by Michel-Richard de Lalande recorded here was written for a ballet that accompanied a large French theatrical production of 1720, Les Folies de Cardenio. A full-scale re-creation of one of these spectacles would really be something to see, but in the meantime listeners can enjoy this sequence of almost little dances (many of them barely more than a minute long) that accompanied the action on-stage. The dances include the familiar components of the French dance suite -- the bourrée, passepied, sarabande, and so forth -- plus numerous other "airs," dances, and marches: the work offers what must be a nearly complete overview of French dance rhythms of the period. There are a few little songs, and a few pieces that accompany specific action on-stage. Most noteworthy are several exotic pieces, fruits of the first Western attempts to comprehend the music of the non-Western world. Sample the "Air pour les chinois," track 14, or the even more unusual drumming of the "Air pour les Indiens," track 34. "La Tempête," track 35, has an interesting wind effect. The Ensemble Baroque de Limoges under Christophe Coin delivers brisk, lively performances obviously informed by extensive background work. The English booklet notes are in annoyingly small print, while the sclerotic list of obsequies to French government agencies gets the full-size font. This disc, doubtless primarily intended for specialists and libraries, is enjoyable for anybody with its upbeat turns around the stage.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Le folies de Cardénio, comedy, S. 152|