Carolyn Sampson, a soprano with a reputation for performances of dazzling virtuosity and musicality, presents arias from seven operas by Rameau in her first solo recording. She is joined by Ex Cathedra and Jeffrey Skidmore, with whom she began her singing career whilst at Birmingham University.
Rameau’s operas so dominated the stage of the Paris Opéra in the mid-1700s that their productions were officially ‘rationed’ so as not to depress other composers. By turns tender, voluptuous, nostalgic, teasing, and even outrageously satirical, these arias are ravishingly beautiful.
‘It takes some deft and discerning perusal to extricate sections of operas by Rameau and present a plausible anthology… Jeffrey Skidmore, however, has found a solution by skillfully exhibiting Rameau’s kaleidoscopic operatic oeuvre from three tableaux from Les Indes Galantes, Dardanus and Platée: the result is an engagingly amorous introduction to his art. But it will also interest seasoned ramistes … for its elegant alternative to the current propensity for overly mannered and self-conscious artifice. This wonderful music will always need special vocal advocacy and there can be few outside France as equipped as Carolyn Sampson.’ (Gramophone)
‘The English soprano’s musical intelligence, effervescent communication and richness of sound add up to a compelling package, especially so in this carefully chosen selection of Rameau’s operatic love songs.’ (Classic FM Magazine)
‘This is an ideal introduction to Rameau’s stage music. The songs, drawn from seven operas, range from the joyful to the tempestuous via the poignant and heart-rending….Sampson’s fluid, stylish singing is simply lovely… nobody could fail to be seduced by her performances. (The Sunday Times)
‘To sum up: Sampson is radiant, voluptuous and utterly captivating. This is far and away her finest recording to date, and a more inspiring selection from Rameau’s operas would be hard to find … there’s a huge audience out there who, if only they knew how ravishing, how life-enhancing this music is, would buy a copy instantly.’ (International Record Review)
‘Carolyn Sampson’s voice almost inevitably gives pleasure and her singing of this repertoire, strikingly varied in its stylistic and expressive ranges, is well nigh ideal’ (BBC Music Magazine)
‘Carolyn Sampson is as dazzling in the vocal pyrotechnics as she is touching in the CD’s title song, “Règne Amour”.’ (Evening Standard)
‘Carolyn Sampson is on superlative form as she negotiates Rameau’s challengingly ornate vocal lines with enormous sensitivity and expression.’ (Early Music Forum of Scotland News)
‘Scintillating singing from Carolyn Sampson.’ (Music Week)
‘This is a stunning CD. Never before have I heard such fantastic performances of Rameau from an English group. The undoubted star of the show is former choirboy-soundalike Carloyn Sampson, whose voice has (seemingly) been gradually developing velvety tones over the past year or so, and here is showcased in all its spectacular radiance in selections from seven of Rameau’s stage works. Rameau was, like Handel, acutely observant of the personalities and mood swings of his characters, and wrote the most glorious music to portray them. Sampson surmounts the technical challenges (of which there are more than a few) with ease, and is given the most stylish orchestral backdrop upon which to play… now that England has Ramistes of this calibre, I say let’s have the church music (in the previously under-recorded versions with horns, if they need an angle), and some more of Rameau’s extraordinarily colourful stage music. Don’t miss this!’ (Early Music Review)
‘Skidmore, a painstaking conductor, breathes boundless energy into his many-coloured orchestra; the group provides faultless support for the exquisite soprano Carolyn Sampson.’ (Goldberg)