Telemann had a sense of humour. Literary “heroes”, sounds of nature and historical events: he set everything to music as vividly as he did characteristically, whether in the water music Le Tintamarre, in the Don Quixote and Gulliver suites, or in his Ouverture burlesque about the Paris stock exchange crash of 1720. The most picturesque of all these works is undoubtedly the overture suite La Putain, which owes its title to a farm girl whose encounters with the opposite sex are, shall we say, more liberal than is generally the case: the introductory overture quotes the folk song, “Ich bin so lang nicht bei dir g’west”, then the allegorical figure of Aspiration makes an appearance, but so slowly that it fails to have its intended effect, allowing the peasant farmers to set off blithely for the fair. The following minuet “The Witch’s Dance” becomes a caricature of good manners, as the dancing women swing their hips as if possessed by the devil, before the listener is whisked away to a – literally – lousy inn where people are carousing happily.
In this concert of the Original Sounds series, Les Talents Lyriques present Telemann’s far too rarely heard suite La Putain, music that is fit to burst with imagination and wit, and which evokes a picturesque, rustic atmosphere. The French Baroque ensemble has also programmed the orchestral suite from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “Ballet heroïque” Les Fêtes de l'Hymen et de l'Amour, music which provided the audience at its premiere with a stage spectacular in every way with its mixture of Italian style and French expressiveness: lively dances full of new orchestral sounds, expressive symphonies and a chorus which played an essential role in the plot. The setting is the world of Egyptian mythology – Rameau’s score even includes a musical representation of a Nile flood.
Between these two works, Les Talents Lyriques perform the orchestral suite from the Tragédie en musique Scylla et Glaucus by Jean-Marie Leclair, whose reputation as one of the most important violin virtuosos of the time even surpassed his renown as a composer. The musical direction of the evening is in the hands of Christophe Rousset, a leading specialist in Baroque music.