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Les Boréades

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Jean-Philippe Rameau
Les Boréades

Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic Hall in Krakow
9th of October 2014, 8 p.m.

ALPHISE: Julie Fuchs
ABARIS: Samuel Boden
CALISIS: Manuel Nuñez Camelino
BORILÉE: Jean-Gabriel Saint Martin
BORÉE: Damien Pass
APOLLON: Mathieu Gardon
ADAMAS: André Morsch

Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble
– ensemble
Aedes Choir
Marc Minkowski – conductor

The Descendants of Boreas (Les Boréades) is an opera in five acts, dating back most probably to 1763. Jean-Philippe Rameau wrote his last musical tragedy at an old age and did not live to see it staged. It is known that rehearsals started a year before the composer died, most probably in April 1763 – the premiere was supposed to take place at the manor of Choisy, but the project was abandoned for unclear reasons. The premiere of the stage version of the opera was presented to the audience of the festival in Aix-en-Provence as late as the 21st of July... 1982. The orchestra was conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, who had already performed the concert version earlier, on the 14th of April 1975 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, eleven years after the presentation of the first abridged version of The Descendants of Boreas on the radio. Fortunately, instrumental fragments of the work were also presented at the National Philharmonic by Marc Minkowski in March 2002. Thus, after two hundred years of oblivion in the archives of the National Library in Paris, we have been able to appreciate the perfect libretto, loosely based on the myth of Abaris, and Rameau’s cohesive composition since the second half of the past century. Striking harmonies, sounds of nature that the composer used so readily in his works, the soloists’ diverse parts, refined dancing, and skilful building up of suspense – credit for this can also go to the brilliant librettist, who unfortunately fell into oblivion, although attempts to attribute it to outstanding Louis de Cahusac, who died in 1759, are not unjustified. The composition engages as many as eleven dramatis personae; they include: Alphise (soprano), Sémire (soprano), Polymnie/Polyhymnia (soprano), a Nymph (soprano), Abaris (haute-contre), Calisis (haute-contre), Boréas (bass), Borilée (bass), Adamas (bass), Apollon (bass), and L’Amour/Cupid (soprano).

Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble – the British daily, The Guardian, called it one of the most outstanding orchestras in the world. It was established in 1982 by Marc Minkowski as an ensemble playing baroque through to Romantic music with the use of period instruments. Thirty years of existence and diverse repertoire demand serious consideration before answering the question of whether the ensemble conducted by Marc Minkowski feel better performing Mozart, Rameau, Bach, Handel, Schubert or 19th-century French music. Very well-received all over the world, they are famous for excellent interpretations of operas – also here, we can see the amazing musical erudition of the group, which has staged Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea and Bizet's Carmen with equal success. Since 1996, the orchestra has resided in Grenoble, where next to artistic practice, it also carries out intensive educational activity for the popularisation of classical music. Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble perform under the baton of Marc Minkowski, a former bassoonist, and today, one of the most popular conductors, whose interests centre around French music from baroque through to the 19th century. In the years 2008-2012, Minkowski was also the music director of Sinfonia Varsovia.

Les Boréades, posthumus work by Jean-Philippe Rameau, 1764.
Source: Manuscript Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Rés.Vmb Ms4.
Copyright 1982, 1998 and 2001 Alain Villain, Editions Stil, Paris.