Hyperion Records

Rameau, Jean-Philippe (1683-1764)  

Jean-Philippe Rameau

born: 25 September 1683
died: 12 September 1764
country: France

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According to one early biographer, Rameau made his operatic debut ‘at an age when the ordinary mortal begins to decay’. This is a slight exaggeration: the composer was, after all, only fifty when his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, was first performed in 1733. Yet the statement draws attention to the curiously lop-sided pattern of Rameau’s creative life. Although his compositional activity extended over some six decades, the vast majority of his compositions—including almost thirty operas—belong to the second half of that period.

Born in Dijon in 1683, Rameau spent most of his early life in the comparative obscurity of the French provinces. He began to acquire more than a merely local reputation when he settled in Paris in 1722, publishing his monumental Traité de l’harmonie that year. This epoch-making treatise revolutionized the way in which musicians understood their art and has remained the basis of much of the teaching of harmony ever since.

Yet this reputation as a learned theorist was something of an albatross when Rameau finally plucked up courage to present his first opera. French audiences were initially disconcerted by the forcefulness and complexity of his music, and by what they saw as its excessively Italianate character. While there were some who soon came to terms with the richly inventive new idiom, for others Rameau became a hate-figure, the butt of satirical engravings and lampoons. A dispute erupted between the ramistes, as his growing band of devotees was known, and the lullistes, supporters of the traditional repertory still dominated by the revered though long-dead Lully.

During the mid-1740s, however, Rameau’s colossal stature as an opera composer was more generally acknowledged. After several commissions from Louis XV’s court, among them Platée (1745), he received a royal pension and the title of compositeur du cabinet du roi. By the time Zoroastre appeared in 1749 his works dominated the repertory of the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opéra) to such an extent that one court official forbade the company to stage more than two of them per year ‘for fear of discouraging other composers’.

By the time he died in 1764, Rameau had become the grand old man of French music. His final years were nevertheless bedevilled by controversy. He was embroiled in several pamphlet wars concerning music theory, while during the notorious Querelle des Bouffons (1752–4) this formerly ‘excessively Italianate’ composer found himself under attack by Italophiles as arch-representative (with Lully) of the conservative and, by implication, discredited French style. His penultimate work, Les Paladins (1760), was a flop while his final opera, Les Boréades, was never performed during his lifetime.

from notes by Graham Sadler © 2004

Albums
'Rameau: Keyboard Suites' (CDA67597)
Rameau: Keyboard Suites
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67597 
'Rameau: Règne Amour' (CDA67447)
Rameau: Règne Amour
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67447 
'A French Baroque Diva' (CDA68035)
A French Baroque Diva
CDA68035  June 2014 Release  
'Favourite Baroque Classics' (CDH55020)
Favourite Baroque Classics
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55020  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Smörgasbord' (CDA67184)
Smörgasbord
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67184 
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
Accordez vos sons et vos pas  No 1 from La lyre enchantée (Rameau)
Air gracieux – L'Amour, le seul Amour  Extract from Dardanus (Rameau)
Air vif. Torture d'Alphise  Act 4 of Les Boréades (Rameau/Lidström)
Allemande  Movement 1 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Allemande  Movement 1 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Amour, lance tes traits  Act 3 Scene 4 from Platée (Rameau)
Aux langueurs d'Apollon  Extract from Platée (Rameau)
Castor et Pollux (Rameau)
C'est trop soupirer  Extract from Les Paladins (Rameau)
Courante  Movement 2 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Courante  Movement 2 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Dardanus (Rameau)
Double 5  Movement 7f of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Du pouvoir de l'Amour  Extract from Pygmalion (Rameau)
Écoutons … D'un doux frémissement  No 3 from La lyre enchantée (Rameau)
Fanfarinette  Movement 5 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Formons les plus brillants concerts  Extract from Platée (Rameau)
Fra le pupille  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Gavotte   Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Gigue en rondeau I  Movement 3 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Gigue en rondeau II  Movement 4 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Honneur à la Folie – Aimables jeux  Extract from Platée (Rameau)
Honneur à la Folie – Je jeux finir – Hymen  Extract from Platée (Rameau)
La lyre enchantée (Rameau)
La poule  Movement 4 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
La triomphante  Movement 6 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
La villageoise  Movement 9 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Le rappel des oiseaux  Movement 5 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
L'egiptienne  Movement 8 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
L'enharmonique  Movement 7 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Les Boréades (Rameau/Lidström)
Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Les Paladins (Rameau)
Les sauvages  Movement 6 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Les tricotets  Movement 1 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Les triolets  Movement 5 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Les trois mains  Movement 4 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
L'indifferente  Movement 2 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Marche pour les différentes nations – Par tes bienfaits  Extract from Dardanus (Rameau)
Menuet en rondeau – Si l'Amour coûte des soupirs  Extract from Dardanus (Rameau)
Menuets I & II  Movement 3 of Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Musette en rondeau  Movement 7 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Musettes, résonnez – Menuet en rondeau  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Platée (Rameau)
Pygmalion (Rameau)
Règne Amour  Extract from Zoroastre (Rameau)
Régnez, Amour  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Rigaudon I – Rigaudon II – Fuyez, vents orageux!  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Rigaudons I & II  Movement 6 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Rossignols amoureux  Extract from Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Sarabande  Movement 3 of Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Soleil, fuis de ces lieux!  Extract from Platée (Rameau)
Suite in A minor (Rameau)
Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Suite in G minor (Rameau)
Tambourin  Movement 8 of Suite in E minor (Rameau)
Tambourin I – Tambourin II  Extract from Dardanus (Rameau)
Tambourin I – Tambourin II – Partez!  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Tempête. La nuit couvre les cieux!  Extract from Les Indes galantes (Rameau)
Un tendre intérêt vous appelle – Tristes apprêts  Act 1 Scenes 2-3 from Castor et Pollux (Rameau)
Vole, Amour, prête-moi tes armes  No 4 of La lyre enchantée (Rameau)
Zoroastre (Rameau)
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