by Daniel Hathaway
Les Délices has allowed us an advance look at the first full video program of its new season, Song of Orpheus, which will debut online Thursday, October 7 and remain available on demand through November 6.
The Orpheus myth inspired French Baroque composers Jean-Philippe Rameau and Philippe Courbois to write expressive solo cantatas about the famous Greek musician-poet and his futile attempts — because of his own impatience — to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the grasp of Pluto in the Underworld. These are beautifully performed by the clear-voiced soprano Hannah De Priest and the velvet-throated baritone Jonathan Woody (who makes a walk-on appearance in the Rameau).
The superb instrumental ensemble — Shelby Yamin, violin, Debra Nagy, oboe, Rebecca Reed, gamba and cello, and Mark Edwards, harpsichord — provide color and drama. Edwards contributes a solo harpsichord entr’acte, Jean-François Dandrieu’s La lyre d’Orphée (played from memory) in imitation of the poet’s magical music, which could bend mountaintops and trees.
The program is introduced by a new trio sonata commissioned by Les Délices from Jonathan Woody, who has drunk so deeply at the fountain of Apollo that he’s able to write a 21st century work that could plausibly have come from the pen of a 17th-century master — but with some expressive storytelling devices of his own that both belong to the genre and extend it in new directions. By Much Love Betray’d is an impressive achievement that should find a place on programs of other period instrument groups.
The videography and production values of this episode reach new heights and validate Les Délices COVID-era decision to reinvent itself as a production company that will still present live concerts from time to time.
Published on ClevelandClassical.com October 5, 2021.
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