- Airs pour les Matelots et les Tritons, for orchestra (Alcyone Suite No. 4)
Storms were a common theme in Baroque music, and this double album by Jordi Savall and his Le Concert des Nations Baroque ensemble touches on some lesser-known items in the category and offers a good time from start to finish. The "fêtes marines" (parties on the water) classification may not seem to fit perfectly with the storms, but the "Wassermusik, Hamburger Ebb und Fluth" (Water Music, Ebb and Flow at Hamburg) of Georg Philipp Telemann, so much less familiar than Handel's similar work, but pretty competitive with it and full of traits one thinks of as quintessentially Handelian, is comparatively "breezy" and is of a piece with the other music on the album. Perhaps the most fun is the title work by the underrated Jean-Féry Rebel, an orchestral suite with a full-blown storm at the very beginning. Vivaldi, who excelled at this kind of thing, is represented by the "Flute Concerto in F major, RV 433 (La tempesta di mare)," while the stage tradition that intersected with the purely instrumental storm depictions is represented by Matthew Locke's 1674 music for Shakespeare's "The Tempest." This work is presented complete with the noises of curtains opening and closing, and Savall's crew throughout combines instrumental authenticity with great beauty. The Marais and Rameau works on the second CD are collections of theater pieces, from a single opera ("Alcione") in Marais' case, and from a group of them in Rameau's. The Rameau segment and the album conclude with a "Contredanse très vive" from the opera "Zoroastre" that comes as close as anything ever has to capturing what a French audience expected when they went to an opera; we won't spoil the fun by explaining further. The live recording is rare for Savall, and is a special attraction here. Highly recommended.