Martha Angelici, soprano – Solange Michel, mezzo-soprano – Soloists and Chorus of The French National Orchestra – Marc Honegger, conductor – broadcast recording – 1952 – ORTF, Paris.
The Music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier this weekend. Not my usual addition to the Sunday lineup, but something worthy of a listen, if for nothing else than to find out what they were enjoying in 15th century France.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier 1643 – 24 February 1704 was a French Baroque composer during the reign of Louis XIV . One of his most famous works is the main theme from the prelude of his Te Deum, Marche en Rondeau. This theme which is still used today as a fanfare during television broadcasts of the Eurovision Network, the European Broadcasting Union .
Marc-Antoine Charpentier dominated the Baroque musical scene in seventeenth century France because of the quality of his prolific output. He mastered all genres, and his skill in writing sacred vocal music was especially hailed by his contemporaries.
He began his career by going to Italy, there he fell under the influence of Giacomo Carissimi as well as other Italian composers, perhaps Domenico Mazzocchi . He would remain marked by the Italian style and become the only one with Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville in France to approach the oratorio. In 1670, he became a master of music (composer and singer) in the service of the Duchess of Guise . From 1690 Charpentier composed Médée , on a piece by Corneille . It would be a determining failure in his career of composer: he devoted himself henceforth to the religious music. He became the composer of the Carmelites of Rue du Bouloir, Montmartre Abbey ,Abbaye-aux-Bois and Port-Royal . In 1698, Charpentier was appointed music master for the children of the Sainte-Chapelle du Palais . After having obtained from the king Louis XIV a softening of Lully ‘s monopoly, Molière turned to Charpentier to compose the music for the intermissions of Circe and Andromeda , as well as sung scenes for the revivals of The Forced Marriage , and finally the musical pieces of The Imaginary invalid.
He composed secular works, stage music, operas , cantatas , sonatas , symphonies , as well as sacred music, motets (large or small), oratorios , masses, psalms, Magnificats , Litanies.
At his death, Charpentier’s complete works must have numbered about 800 opus numbers, but today only 28 autograph volumes remain, or more than 500 pieces that he himself took care to classify. This collection, called Melanges , is one of the most comprehensive sets of musical autograph manuscripts of all time.
Three excerpts tonight – first is Supplicatio Profundis – From Volume 18 of Le Melange – followed by a selection from Litanies to the Virgin and concluding with Recordare.
Martha Angelici made her debut at the Opéra-Comique in 1938, where she had a long and successful career, and made her debut at the Palais Garnier in 1953, as Micaela in Carmen, other notable roles included Leila, Pamina, Nedda, etc. She made a few guest appearances at the Monte Carlo Opera and La Monnaie in Brussels. She was much admired in French baroque music notably in Rameau’s Les Indes galantes.
Solange Michel Born Solange Boulesteix in Paris, Michel studied at the Conservatoire de Paris under Thomas Salignac and André Gresse. She began her career as a concert singer, giving her first performance on French Radio in 1936, and made her stage debut in 1942, as Charlotte in Werther.
In 1945, she changed her name to Solange Michel and became a member of the Opéra-Comique where she debuted as Mignon. Shortly afterwards, she was invited to perform at the Paris Opera, and quickly established herself as the most important mezzo of her era. Her interpretation of Carmen is now widely regarded as a classic. Other notable roles included; Charlotte, Dalila in Camille Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, Geneviève in Claude Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Marguerite in Hector Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust, and Orfeo in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. She also participated in the premieres of Pierre Wissmer’s Marion in 1951, and Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Last Savage in 1963.