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In their latest release entitled “Libertà!”, Pygmalion with conductor Raphaël Pichon explore unfamiliar repertoire from Mozart and three of his contemporaries. Through a selection of operatic extracts, unused Mozart material, concert arias and miscellaneous pieces, they construct an operatic fantasy in three “tableaux” or acts, creating a vision of a complete opera.





Handel's Italian cantatas date from early in his career. As a group they are less well-known than his operas, but they're equally virtuosic, and performances of the cantatas whole, as with the three here, are a bit more satisfying than with the operas. Both the singers here, French soprano Sabine Devieilhe and French-Italian mezzo Lea Desandre, offer thrilling performances. The highlight is perhaps the first cantata of the set, Aminta e Fillide, HWV 83, where the contrast between the sparkling Devieilhe and the silvery-voiced Desandre is a pleasure in itself.



This release by French soprano Sabine Devieilhe has multiple strengths that propelled it onto the charts right out of the box, so to speak. Appreciation for Devieilhe's manifest vocal gifts should not obscure the superb work done by recording and mixing engineer Hugues Deschaux, especially on the orchestral tracks featuring the group Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth, Deschaux creates a mysterious sound environment in which Devieilhe seems to hover alluringly in the distance. This fits the programming concept in an uncanny way: Mirages explores exotic heroines in late Romantic French opera and song.



Sabine Devieilhe steps into the roles of the Weber Sisters, with a sharp support from the historical-instrument group Pygmalion under Raphaël Pichon. The most unusual aspect of the album is that there are pieces not directly associated with the Weber sisters at all: instead, they set the scene for the stages in Mozart's career at which he encountered the sisters. This is quite effective in the case of the solfeggio exercise (which has its own Köchel listing, K. 393) Mozart wrote for Constanze in preparation for the big arias of the Mass in C minor, K. 427. At the end of the program, Devieilhe nails the "Incarnatus" from that Mass.



The operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau, vast spectacles, may be lost to history in their original forms. Sure, some of them have been produced in the modern era, but no company could muster the combination of singers, instrumentalists, choreography, and costume and scene design that would have accompanied the originals. The closest might be this release by French soprano Sabine Devieilhe, which is a thrill from start to finish.