Philidor: Carmen Saeculare; Overtures

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Like Chevalier de Saint-Georges, François-André Danican Philidor gained fame both as a composer and a sportsman. In addition to his facility as a composer of opera and as a pioneer in the field of opéra-comique, Philidor was the most famous chess master of his era, celebrated for his ability to win games while blindfolded. While this has kept Philidor's great chess playing manual Analyse du jeu des échecs in print for more than two and a half centuries, very little of his music has been recorded. This is due to the fact that, outside of his operas, not much of it survives -- not a single one of his sacred compositions has come down to us, and his set of six quartets, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
Like Chevalier de Saint-Georges, François-André Danican Philidor gained fame both as a composer and a sportsman. In addition to his facility as a composer of opera and as a pioneer in the field of opéra-comique, Philidor was the most famous chess master of his era, celebrated for his ability to win games while blindfolded. While this has kept Philidor's great chess playing manual Analyse du jeu des échecs in print for more than two and a half centuries, very little of his music has been recorded. This is due to the fact that, outside of his operas, not much of it survives -- not a single one of his sacred compositions has come down to us, and his set of six quartets, "L'art de la modulation" 1755, appears to be Philidor's only contribution to instrumental music. Nevertheless, this Naxos issue of Philidor's big secular oratorio "Carmen Saeculare" is the second recording made of this work, and it is interesting to note that the same conductor, noted early music specialist Jean-Claude Malgoire, leads both recordings. As the first one was made for the "Musifrance" imprint belonging to the long-gone French Erato label, Malgoire is in little danger of competing with himself in this work; he was probably happy to have a second chance at it, this time with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, its chorus, and four vocal soloists. As the work runs a little over single-CD length, Naxos has stretched it out by adding three of Philidor's overtures with the Prague Chamber Orchestra under Christian Benda. Of the three overtures included, "Le sorcier" is the most effective; Philidor introduces a half-time fragment of a rhythmic idea drawn from the opening figure and includes it within the main theme; a highly unusual and arresting effect. "Carmen Saeculare" contains many interesting musical features despite its hopelessly pompous libretto, compiled from Odes of Horace by Italian critic, literary gadfly, and murder suspect Giuseppe Baretti. Ostensibly, "Carmen Saeculare" is about an assembly in ancient times to venerate an Olympics-styled ceremony lasting three days; however, the text winds up being a laundry list of invocations to various Greek and Roman gods, celebrating their sometimes rather bloodthirsty deeds. Thanks to Philidor's music, such unpromising material does wind up being rather dramatically satisfying, but all of that excitement comes from the music, not the tale told. Philidor makes wonderful use of musical text painting, evoking the sunrise in an effective bass solo invoking Apollo, and there is a sneaky, mysterious minor-key set piece between soloists and chorus in the second part that evokes masked marauders in late-night, seventeenth century London streets -- the kind of predator that Baretti is said to have killed in defending himself. The recordings of Philidor's overtures, conducted by Benda, are crisp, up front, and very clear. "Carmen Saeculare," being an older recording from 1998, is a little less focused and more distant, but adequate. Musically, there is nothing in Philidor that is comparable to Mozart or Haydn; though the string parts are appropriately galant in slow movements and brisk in fast movements, the handling of winds is reminiscent of Handel -- stylistically Philidor is what Rameau may have sounded like if he had composed Classical music instead of in a Baroque style. As such, Philidor represents an earlier generation of musician than that exemplified by the First Viennese School. If such rare, exploratory, and unfamiliar Classical era music is of appeal to you, then Naxos' Philidor: Carmen Saeculare is definitely something to investigate.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/27/2007
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313259328
  • Catalog Number: 8557593
  • Sales rank: 326,318

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Simphonie No. 27 in G major (Ouverture: Le maréchal ferrant) - François-André Danican Philidor & Christian Benda (12:49)
    Composed byFrançois-André Danican Philidor
    Conducted byChristian Benda
    Performed byChristian Benda, Prague Chamber Orchestra
    1. 1Allegro
    2. 2Andante con spirito
    3. 3Presto
  2. 4–31 Carmen Saeculare, secular oratorio - Antonio Abete & François-André Danican Philidor (80:12)
    Composed byFrançois-André Danican Philidor
    Conducted byJean-Claude Malgoire
    Performed byAntonio Abete, Veronica Cangemi, Donald Litaker, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Swiss Radio Choir, Swiss-Italian Radio Orchestra, Nora Gubisch
    1. 4Ouverture
    2. 5Prologus: Odi profanum vulgus
    3. 6Prima Pars. Spiritum Phœbus mihi
    4. 7Prima Pars. Deliæ tutela Deæ fugaces
    5. 8Prima Pars. Nupta iam dices
    6. 9Seconda Pars. Dive, quem proles Niobea magnæ
    7. 10Seconda Pars. Ceteris maior, tibi miles impar
    8. 11Seconda Pars. Ille, mordaci velu icta ferro
    9. 12Seconda Pars. Ni tuis flexus Venerisque gratæ
    10. 13Seconda Pars. Doctor argutæ fidicen Thaliæ
    11. 14Tertia Pars. Dianam teneræ dicite virgines
    12. 15Tertia Pars. Vos lætam fluviis et nemorum coma
    13. 16Tertia Pars. Hic bellum lacrimosum
    14. 17Pars Quarta. Phœbe silvarumque potens Diana
    15. 18Pars Quarta. Alma Sol, curru nitido diem
    16. 19Pars Quarta. Rite maturos aperire partus
    17. 20Pars Quarta. Certus undenos decies per annos
    18. 21Pars Quarta. Vosque veraces cecinisse, Parcæ
    19. 22Pars Quarta. Fertilis frugum pecorisque Tellus
    20. 23Pars Quarta. Conditio mitis placidusque
    21. 24Pars Quarta. Roma si vestrum est opus
    22. 25Pars Quarta. Di probos mores docili iuventæ
    23. 26Pars Quarta. Quæque vos bobus veneratur albis
    24. 27Pars Quarta. Iam mari terraque manus potentes
    25. 28Pars Quarta. Iam Fides et Pax et Honos Pudorque
    26. 29Pars Quarta. Augur et fulgente decorus arcu
    27. 30Pars Quarta. Quæque Aventinum tenet Algidumque
    28. 31Pars Quarta. Hæc Iovem sentire Deosque cunctos
Disc 2
  1. 1 Le sorcier, Overture: Ouverture - François-André Danican Philidor & Christian Benda (8:48)
    Composed byFrançois-André Danican Philidor
    Conducted byChristian Benda
    Performed byChristian Benda, Prague Chamber Orchestra
  2. 2 Tom Jones, opera: Ouverture - François-André Danican Philidor & Christian Benda (7:51)
    Composed byFrançois-André Danican Philidor
    Conducted byChristian Benda
    Performed byChristian Benda, Prague Chamber Orchestra
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Christian Benda Primary Artist
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