With Isbé, a pastorale héroïque by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, György Vashegyi has revived another overlooked dramatic work from the French Baroque – much as he did with Rameau’s Les Fêtes de Polymnie – for another release on the Glossa label. In his native Budapest, Vashegyi has been developing his interpretations of Baroque music with his Orfeo Orchestra and Purcell Choir for nearly three decades now, and for this recording he has assembled a magnificent team of vocal soloists, well-versed in the idiom of eighteenth- century French opera: Thomas Dolié assumes the important role of Adamas, the Chief Druid, who is besotted by Isbé, and yet is also provided with modern Enlightenment thinking (the opera was premièred in 1742).
Henry Purcell's Twelve Sonatas of Three Parts were issued in 1683, when the composer was 24 and the first wave of Italian trio sonata-like pieces was hitting France and England with earthshaking impact. Purcell followed Italian models with a pair of interlocking violin parts over a continuo, but the results are unmistakably English and hark back to the melancholy consort tradition, with oddly shaped lines and pungent dissonances scattered through the short, four-movement pieces (six or seven minutes in total).
Philippe Herreweghe's 2011 recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Missa Solemnis in D major receives high marks, not only for the elegant period treatment, but also for the profound conviction of the performance. The Collegium Vocale Ghent and the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées deliver the music with a somewhat smaller sound than one usually hears in modern performances; the Classical proportions of the ensembles allow details to stand out with utter clarity and the choral parts to move with greater fluidity and transparency than permitted with much larger choruses.
Henry Purcell's oft-recorded opera, "Dido and Aeneas", is in fact the only one he ever composed, and renowned Baroque specialist René Jacobs turns out to be an ideal interpreter of this seminal 17th-century musical allegory. Not even an hour in length, the opera is an ideal introduction to this period of classical music, as Purcell melds a tragic love story with Shakespearean-level theatricality and surprising comedy elements. This 2006 reissue of a 1998 performance doesn't have quite the dramatic vibrancy of Emmanuelle Haïm's 2004 six-instrument ensemble, but it compensates with scope and polish…