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Second Sight - Music with Wilfrid Mellers

3. Stylized subtleties - Campra emerges

'The performers ... present the music with an affectionate spontaneity ...
'Canzona' is directed by Theresa Caudle
with an elegance appropriate to the music ...'


Campra Motets. Copyright (c) 1999 Etcetera

Lully was the Grand Panjandrum of music at the court of Louis XIV, famed as a composer of Heroick operas and of Grands Motets paying homage to a King almost identified with God. André Campra was a relatively small fish in these capaciously glittering waters: a man born in 1660 and nurtured provincially in ecclesiastical circles in Aix-en-Provence, and later music-master at Toulouse Cathedral. Well-connected, however, he intermittently visited the court to make delightful, if minor, opéra-ballets, such as L'Europe Galante in 1697 and Le Carnival de Venise in 1699. His music, like his temperament, was always equably poised between church and court, though he was less happy in Lullian grands motets than with chamber music intimately scored for solo voices with a continuo of gamba and organ or theorbo or harpsichord, with an occasional obbligato flute or violin. The texts Campra favoured were from the Latin Vulgate of the Psalms or the quasi-erotic Song of Songs; he published five volumes of these chamber motets between 1695 and 1720. They were conspicuously successful, and the pieces on this CD are extracted from the first two books.

The performers, Philippa Hyde (soprano), Rodrigo del Pozo (counter-tenor), and Peter Harvey (bass), present the music with an affectionate spontaneity that renders their artifices of ornamentation and 'notes inégales' briskly vivacious, or delicately expressive, or exquisitely sensual, as occasion offers. The ensemble called Canzona is directed by Theresa Caudle with an elegance appropriate to the music; it's touching that artists reared in our brashly materialistic world can relate thus directly to music so remote from us in its stylized subtleties: though of course their hedonism was, like Lully's, dependent on social privilege as well as, like ours, on an almost indecent affluence. Especially entrancing, surviving over what seems to be, but isn't, aeons of time, is the deliciously flowery motet Florete prata [listen -- track 2, 7:40-8:40], as sung by counter-tenor Rodrigo Pozo, who was taught, I wasn't surprised to learn, by Nigel Rogers; the duet O Jesu Amantissime (not to a psalm but to a specially-written dog-Latin text that was also ravishingly set by Couperin); and another duet, Dissipa, Domine, radiantly lachrymose in caressing suspensions.


Copyright © 14 October 2000 Wilfrid Mellers, York, UK






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