In contrast to its reception in 1737, 'Castor et Pollux' enjoyed great success in 1754 and it was given regularly until 1755. It was revived again at court in November 1763, then at the Académie Royale de Musique from January 1764 (six months before the elderly Rameau’s death) until 1765, and continued to receive frequent performances from 1770 to 1782: eloquent testimony to its popularity. Thanks to the recent discovery of a manuscript close to the autograph that Rameau finalised in the last months of 1753, this second version of the work, with its tauter dramatic action, can now be heard in the pristine splendour and refinement of its orchestration. As a result the revised tragédie lyrique, unfairly overshadowed nowadays by the 1737 version, emerges in its full force and dramatic power under the inspired direction of Raphaël Pichon.
Jean-Claude Malgoire has been one of the more important French conductors of the latter twentieth and early twenty first centuries. He has focused heavily on Baroque music, though his repertory also includes operas by Mozart and Salieri. As music director of the La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy and l'Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, he has given many highly acclaimed concerts and opera productions, and made numerous recordings with major labels.
Compared to his colleagues in the French Baroque harpsichord business, Rameau wrote relatively little keyboard music. It all fits on two discs. Like the keyboard sonatas of his contemporary Scarlatti, these pieces contain moments when Rameau clearly uses the harpsichord to evoke the sound of the orchestra–trumpets, flutes, and drums–but unlike Scarlatti's, several of these pieces were actually orchestrated and reappear as dance numbers in Rameau's operas. William Christie is our leading exponent of French Baroque opera, Rameau in particular, and it follows that he is alive to every detail in these fascinating and delightful miniatures. At midprice, this is a great deal.-David Hurwitz
The story of how Mozart fell in love with the young singer Aloysia Weber, was dumped, and then married her younger sister Constanze is well known. The fact that a third sister, Josepha, figured in Mozart's career (and that the youngest sister, Sophia, remembered Mozart from her childhood) is less commonly appreciated. French soprano Sabine Devieilhe steps into the roles of Aloysia, Constanze, and Josepha here, making clear that all three must have been among the strongest sopranos of their time. She doesn't really try to differentiate among the voices of the three (which are at any rate unknowable), but all of them got powerhouse arias.
Pinchgut Opera presented one of the glories of the French baroque for the first time in Australia. Castor & Pollux is Rameau's finest creation. It's a story based in mythology about the self-sacrificing love between two brothers. The music goes straight to the heart. With some of the most beautiful vocal and orchestral writing of the period, the opera was an instant hit when it was first presented.