Christ Church Cathedral
Artists: Le poème harmonique, directed by Vincent Dumestre with Anaïs Bertrand, mezzo-soprano
Let us imagine the Louvre, which now attracts visitors from across the globe, during the illustrious reign of the Sun King Louis XIV. First the palace puts on ballets de cour and Italian songs performed in commedia, until the day the inevitable, gigantic show from across the mountains arrives: opera. First Italian opera with Cavalli’s Ercole amante and Xerse, and then French opera with masterpieces by J.B. Lully, including Atys and Phaéton, the pinnacle of musical achievement in 17th-century France. From one score to the next, Poème Harmonique tells the story of the world’s most famous palace.
There will be a pre-concert talk with Vincent Dumestre hosted by Sylvia L’Ecuyer at 7 p.m.
This concert is generously sponsored by Mark De Silva
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
Plainte de Vénus sur la mort d’Adonis
Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726)
Symphonies Pour Les Soupers Du Roy
Marche des Bergers
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Air sur les Stances du Cid
Etienne Moulinié (1599-1676)
L’auzel que sul boyssou
Le bossu maumariée
Quand je menais les chevaux boire
Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676)
Sinfonia, Ercole amante 1
Marco Uccellini (1603 or 1610-1680)
Sinfonie Boscarecie, Op. 8: No. 34, La gran battaglia
Aria sopra la Bergamasca
Dell’antro magico, Il Giasone
Luci mie, Xerse
Giovanni Battisa Buonamente (1595-1642)
Aria di Fiorenza
E vuol dunque, Ercole amante
Piangete occhi dolenti, L’Egisto
Outshone by the Palace of Versailles, which was conceived as a palace of absolute sovereignty, the Louvre nevertheless remained the heart of the kingdom of France, and a symbol and seat of royal authority that beat to the rhythm of court songs, dances and entertainment from the reign of Henry IV to the first years of power of Louis XIV. It saw the development of refined music between 1589 and 1678, in emblematic genres and a purely French style, directly infused with popular repertoires, which inspired the composers of art music in particular. While the songs that make up our present heritage resonated in its kitchens or on the palace steps, the supremacy of the lute, viola da gamba and of the air de cour was asserted in its salons, as an ideal of intimacy and vocal refinement which met the aspirations of literate circles and underwent an extraordinary craze at the turn of the 17th century. Étienne Moulinié was its final and masterful representative, before a young Florentine who arrived in France in 1646, Lully, brought back a taste for more pomp and splendour as well as more dance. His Ballet de Flore gave Louis XIV the opportunity to take on the role of the Sun in 1669, in the grand salon of the Tuileries, which earned him his name.
All eyes and ears were also on Italy. The royal palace did not escape the influence of opera, recently born in Florence, which was quickly adopted by Rome and Venice, and brought to France by Mazarin : as early as 1650, the latter imposed the works, among others, of Cavalli, whose porosity with popular characters and humour was yet again a source of dramatic effectiveness and delightful musicality. Ercole amante was also commissioned by the cardinal for the celebration of the marriage of Louis XIV with the Infanta of Spain, in 1662 : a spectacular event, which embraced opera, court ballet and the« pièce à machines » theatrical genre all at once, and would inspire many in the decades that followed – but in a genre qualified as French by Lully.
- Notes by Claire Boisteau, translated by Rebecca James
Anaïs Bertrand, mezzo-soprano
While obtaining a degree in sociology, Anaïs Bertrand studied singing at the Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris and then at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Paris and with Regina Werner at the Hochschule in Leipzig. She is nourished by all forms of expression offered by vocal repertoire – from Gregorian chant to contemporary music, from polyphony to opera. In 2018, she won the 1st prize at the Froville baroque singing competition.
On stage, she has sung the role of Juno (Actéon by Marc-Antoine Charpentier) at the Royal Opera of the Château de Versailles with the Marguerite-Louise Ensemble, the role of Mélisande (Pelléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy) with La Petite Maison as well as that of Dido (Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell) at the Ranelagh theatre with the Maurice et les Autres company amongst others. She has recorded with numerous Baroque ensembles, including Les Arts Florissants, Clément Janequin ensemble, Près de votre oreille, and the Marguerite-Louise ensemble, and is also sought after as a recording artist for contemporary repertoire. She also sings with numerous ensembles as a soloist including Le Poème Harmonique and ensemble Aedes (Mathieu Romano), which specializes in 20th Century acapella vocal repertoire.
Le Poème Harmonique
Since 1998, Le Poème Harmonique has brought together passionate musicians devoted to the interpretation of 17th and 18th Century music. The ensemble’s inventive and demanding programmes are a testament to its enlightened approach to Baroque repertoires and to its in-depth work on vocal and instrumental textures. Based in Normandy, the ensemble has appeared at many of the world’s great festivals and venues including Opéra-Comique, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Wigmore Hall (London), NCPA (Beijing), Wiener Konzerthaus, Concertgebouw Bruges, BOZAR (Brussels), Oji Hall (Tokyo), Teatro San Carlo (Naples), Accademia Santa Cecilia (Rome), St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and the BBC Proms.
Le Poème Harmonique’s discography now includes some 50 recordings that have been regularly acclaimed by the critics and have had great success with the public. With Alpha Classics, the release of Mon Amant de Saint-Jean, a portrait of song from the Baroque to the Roaring Twenties with Stéphanie d’Oustrac is scheduled for autumn 2023. Château de Versailles Spectacles released the world premiere of Cavalli’s Egisto in March 2023, while Lully’s Armide, recorded at the Royal Opera in May 2023, will be released in spring 2024.
Vincent Dumestre, music director
His taste for the arts, creative feeling for Baroque aesthetics, explorer’s flair and love of collective projects naturally led Vincent Dumestre to delve into the repertoire of the 17th and 18th Centuries and in 1998 create Le Poème Harmonique. Mr. Dumestre is one of the most inventive and versatile artists of the Baroque revival as a conductor and director, while continuing to pursue his first love - playing plucked string instruments. He graduated from the École du Louvre (art history) and the École normale de musique de Paris (classical guitar), and studied lute, baroque guitar and theorbo with Hopkinson Smith, Eugène Ferré and Rolf Lislevand, playing with the Ricercar Consort, La Grande Écurie & La Chambre du Roy, Hespèrion XX and La Simphonie du Marais. He is in demand with Le Poème Harmonique on the world’s great stages for Baroque music. Mr. Dumestre is also regularly invited as guest conductor with other ensembles such as the Orchestre régional de Normandie, Capella Cracoviensis and Orkiestra Historyczna. Mr. Dumestre is an Officer of the National Order of Arts and Letters and a Knight of the National Order of Merit.