Philharmonia Chorale / Nicholas McGegan / Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Rameau: Le Temple de la Gloire

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AllMusic Review by

The operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau haven't been given the attention of those of Handel or even Vivaldi. There are various reasons for this, one being that they were spectacles on a scale difficult to replicate without the unlimited financial resources of the Versailles court behind the performers. Also, Rameau wrote in genres that are unfamiliar today. Le temple de la gloire is an opera-ballet, meaning that it included elaborate dance scenes as well as complex accomplishments in stage and costume design. Beyond that, it's hardly an opera in the conventional sense; it's more an allegorical pageant about kingship, with a prologue in which Envy attempts to destroy a Temple of Glory, and three acts in which three ancient kings of different styles and mores, with different music and textual moods to match, attempt to gain entry. The text is by none other than Voltaire, and true to form, it's not without humor. Reconstructing the opera (this live production of the original 1745 version was partly inspired by the discovery of a detailed libretto at the University of California at Berkeley) is a tall order, and this performance, backed by none less than the Center for Baroque Music at Versailles, is welcome for that reason alone. The singers are not what one imagines King Louis XV would have been able to command, but the performances in general, by the veteran Philharmonia Baroque Chorale and Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan, nevertheless convey the scope and color of Rameau's score. You could jump in anywhere, but sample the chorus odes to happiness and the following pastoral scenes for an idea of Rameau's vivid music and Voltaire's well-above-average libretto. The sound, from a UC Berkeley campus auditorium, is fair at best, but the performance and recording give a good idea of what this unique work was like, and you can hardly ask for more here. Illustrations in the substantial booklet convey more of the flavor of the original 2017 production.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Le Temple de la Gloire
1 03:59
2 03:11
3 01:18
4 00:37
5 02:01
6 01:29
7 00:51
8 02:34
9 01:46
10 04:26
11 01:39
12 02:08
13 01:18
14 03:05
15 01:04
16 01:26
17 02:06
18 02:00
19 00:36
20 00:44
21 00:40
22 05:15
23 00:46
24 01:11
25 01:37
26 03:28
27 01:28
28 03:01
29 01:49
30 00:47
31 01:04
32 01:57
33 00:32
34 01:44
35 00:44
36 02:04
37 00:58
38 00:55
39 01:01
40 01:14
41 01:54

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Le Temple de la Gloire
1 01:43
2 01:27
3 02:05
4 02:57
5 00:46
6 01:10
7 01:36
8 00:58
9 01:24
10 02:22
11 00:38
12 01:14
13 00:28
14 01:00
15 00:44
16 03:03
17 02:33
18 04:18
19 01:05
20 00:45
21 01:51
22 01:05
23 00:55
24 01:44
25 01:06
26 00:41
27 01:29
28 01:01
29 02:11
30 00:46
31 01:27
32 02:15
33 01:46
34 01:34
35 01:59
36 02:09
37 01:00
38 01:25
39 01:49
40 00:45
41 01:43
42 03:08
43 00:23
44 01:36
45 03:04
46 02:37
blue highlight denotes track pick