A welcome return of Carolyn Sampson and Ex Cathedra to Hyperion, performing the rich, fulsome music of the French Baroque. Their recording of love songs from Rameau’s operas () was hugely acclaimed for Sampson’s stylish, fluid, seductive performances, and ten years later her artistry is even more dazzling.
This album is of particular interest as rather than concentrating on one composer it showcases the works written for the premiere soprano of the day, Marie Fel. Voltaire called her his ‘adorable nightingale’. For d’Aquin, she was an enchanted being. Marie Fel was the soprano who held an entire generation spellbound at the Paris Opéra and at Louis XV’s court during one of the most glorious periods of French music. With a voice described as ‘pure, charming, silvery’ (La Borde), ‘touching and sublime’ (Grimm) and ‘always lovely, always seductive’ (d’Aquin), she inspired some of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s finest music and introduced a whole new level of virtuosity and expression into the French singing tradition. Her long, triumphant career is traced through this fascinating recording.