Les Arts Florissants / William Christie / Anne Sofie von Otter

Ombre de mon amant

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This 2010 recital by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter takes her into repertoire that is relatively new to her: French Baroque opera. The bulk of this disc, on which she is accompanied by William Christie leading Les Arts Florissants, is devoted to extended excerpts from Charpentier's Médée and Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. This is obviously repertoire for which she feels a strong affinity, and she throws herself into these roles with her characteristic wholeheartedness. Médée, in particular, is an intensely expressive role, and von Otter's passionate performance, alternatively grief-stricken and furious, is unreserved in her embodiment of the troubled character. Charpentier's emotionally charged writing makes Médée an ideal vehicle for her; it's no wonder that she was so attracted to it. The Rameau feels somewhat reserved after Médée's roiling fury, but the final scene of the opera is a real show-stopper. Von Otter sings with her typical passion and attentiveness to the characters' emotions, and succeeds in making the listener care about their desperate plights. She has mastered the unique, florid ornamentation of the French middle Baroque, and the music seems as natural to her as breathing. Her voice has lost some of the bloom she had in her youth, and some of the gleam is gone, but her vocal warmth and acute intelligence and musicianship carry her performance. The seriousness of the operas is alleviated by lyrical airs and chansons by Charpentier and Lambert that are placed like palate cleansers throughout the album. Von Otter sings them with utter delight and grace, and leaves the listener hoping that she will record more of these charming songs. Christie and Les Arts Florissants are featured in several instrumental dances, and their professionalism shines here and in their accompaniments. Archiv's sound is clean and bright, with good balance and a strong sense of presence.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Médée, H. 491
1 1:54
2 2:38
3 2:34
4 4:31
Concert à quatre parties de violes, H. 545
5 3:27
Médée, H. 491
6 4:59
7 0:55
8 1:15
9 1:51
10 1:47
11 0:57
12 0:51
13 1:23
14 3:12
15 1:26
16 1:59
Concert à quatre parties de violes
17 1:07
18 1:55
Concert à quatre parties de violes
19 1:15
Hippolyte et Aricie
20 5:36
Les Fêtes d'Hébé ou les Talens lyriques
21 1:40
22 2:11
23 1:46
24 0:51
25 1:07
26 1:13
27 3:48
Hippolyte et Aricie
28 4:13
29 2:30
blue highlight denotes track pick