Jouissons Cyrille Dubois Aparte AP319

Cyrille Dubois (tenor)
Jouissons de nos beaux ans
Purcell Choir
Orfeo Orchestra/György Vashegyi
rec. 2021, Kodály Centre, Pécs, Hungary 
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
Reviewed as download from press preview
Aparté AP319 [77]

The haute-contre was the voice type one associates with leading male roles in French operas from the late 17th century until the early 19th century. It was a dramatic voice, while the present-day singers have lyrical voices with a high tessitura. One of the foremost singers of that type today is Cyrille Dubois, who has been frequently heard and recorded, not only in baroque music but also in 19th century repertoire. My colleague Michael Cookson was very positive about his participation in an album with orchestral songs by Massenet (review) issued a year ago, and elsewhere the complete songs by Gabriel Fauré, also issued last year, has also been hailed, although it doesn’t seem to have been reviewed at MusicWeb. Just weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Gluck’s Écho et Narcisse, where he impressed in the male title role – and it is in that kind of repertoire we meet him here. Gluck was, of course, German by birth, but he lived several years in Paris and wrote eight operas in French. Here, though, Dubois has chosen an all-French roster of composers, headed by Jean-Philippe Rameau, incomparably the greatest of them. About one third of the total contents here is by him and, not surprisingly, those items stand out. The joyous title song Jouissons de nos beaux ans from Les Boréades for tenor and chorus (track 5) is a true vitamin injection, written by an 80-year-old composer! The vital Tambourins from Daphnis et Églé is another temperature-raiser, and no one can resist the eccentric overture to Zais, with its thundering bass drum, timpani and high strings (track 10). Last but not least, the magnificent Air pantomime and the Drinking song from Platée round off the whole programme at a rollicking tempo. There is more Rameau as well, but I leave it to readers to explore for themselves. 

The rest of the composers have mostly waned away into oblivion through the passing years, but they were important in their own time. Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, a couple of decades younger than Rameau, may ring a bell, and he was a great name in the 18th century. Pierre-Louis Daquin (son of the composer Louis-Claude Daquin) claimed, “If I couldn’t be Rameau, there’s no one I would rather be than Mondonville” – and, certainly, his Chorus of Nymphs from Les Fêtes de Paphos (track 6) is very beautiful, and the tragic aria Que vois-je ? suis-je prêt à finir ma carrière ?…from Titon et l’Aurore (track 23) is deeply moving, especially when sung with such feeling as here. Antoine Dauvergne, active at the court in Versailles, is not entirely erased from the annals either, and the three excerpts from Les Amours de Tempé are fine examples of his art. None of them has been previously recorded, and that goes for several of the others. Actually, half the total numbers on this disc are world premieres. 

Some readers may react to the name Rebel on the first track and respond to the surprisingly modern ballet Les Élémens from 1737-38, where the composer opens Le Chaos with a dissonant tone cluster – but that was François Rebel’s father, Jean-Féry Rebel. François mainly cooperated with François Francoeur. 

Of the remaining composers I have a soft spot for Grenet’s scene from Le Triomphe de l’Harmonie (tracks 13-17), and Pierre Iso’s dramatic thunderstorm from Phaétuse (track 22), but there are plenty of other things to explore here. 

As I intimated earlier, Cyrille Dubois has had rave reviews from various publications, and I can only concur with the ovations. His is a smooth, well-schooled and beautiful voice with easy delivery, myriads of nuances and power enough to carry out over the orchestra also in forte passages. His florid singing is elegant and effortless – and there is quite a lot of coloratura here, not least in the music of Dauvergne.  He is expressive, and his timbre is very personal with his quick vibrato; his phrasing is very musical and never feels mechanical. He makes the music come alive. The Hungarian choir and orchestra under their leader György Vashegyi are well-established in the baroque repertoire through many outstanding recordings, and the sound quality is state-of-the-art. This issue can be safely recommended for the eminent solo singing and the music-making in general, as well as for the music in itself.

Göran Forsling

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1. « Impétueux torrent, dont l’onde menaçante… » (Tarsis)* 4’
2. Prélude pour Arthémis* 0’51
 ANTOINE DAUVERGNE Les Amours de Tempé (1752)
3. « Mille tendres oiseaux sous cet ombrage frais… » (Bacchus)* 2’10
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU Castor et Pollux (1737)
4. Sarabande pour Hébé et sa suite 2’43
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU Les Boréades (1763)
5. « Jouissons de nos beaux ans… » (Calisis et le Chœur) 3’07
6. « L’Amour suit cet objet charmant… » (Chœur de nymphes) 1’51
 FRANÇOIS LUPIEN GRENET Le Triomphe de l’Harmonie (1737)
7. « Chantez l’amour, chantez ses traits victorieux… » (Hylas et le Chœur)* 3’01
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU Daphnis et Églé (1753)
8. Premier et second Tambourins 1’53
 PANCRACE ROYER Zaïde, reine de Grenade (1739)
9. Air pour les Turcs en rondeau 1’31
 ANTOINE DAUVERGNE Les Amours de Tempé (1752)
10. « Verse, Amour, le jus de la treille… » (Bacchus)* 4’26
11. Ouverture 4’43
 LOUIS-JOSEPH FRANCŒUR L’Aurore et Céphale (1766)
12. « Dieux cruels, dieux impitoyables… » (Céphale)* 3’25
 FRANÇOIS LUPIEN GRENET Le Triomphe de l’Harmonie (1737)
13. « Arrêtons-nous dans ce boccage… » (Hylas)* 1’06
14. « Nous jouissons dans nos asiles… » (Chœur de nymphes)* 1’01
15. « Quels accords ! ces tendres concerts… » (Hylas)* 0’18
16. « Lieux embellis par les pleurs de l’aurore…» (Hylas)* 3’41
17. « Hylas ! où vous retient la fortune cruelle ?… » (Chœur)* 1’13
 PIERRE MONTAN BERTON Deucalion et Pyrrha (1755)
18. « Dans ce fatal instant, quels vœux puis-je former !… » (Deucalion)* 3’47
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU Les Fêtes de Polymnie (1745)
19. « Peuples heureux, unissez-vous à moi… » (Antiochus et le Chœur) 3’50
 BERNARD DE BURY Les Caractères de la Folie (1743)
20. « Aveugle dieu, tyran des âmes… » (Agénor)* 2’28
21. « Déguisez bien, mon cœur, le feu qui vous dévore… » (Ovide)* 3’07
 PIERRE ISO Phaétuse (1759)
22. « Éclatez, bruyant tonnerre… » (Chœur)* 2’37
23. « Que vois-je ? suis-je prêt à finir ma carrière ?… » (Titon) 3’17
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU Les Boréades (1763)
24. Descente de Polymnie 4’36
 JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU La Guirlande (1751)
25. « Sons brillants, céleste harmonie… » (Myrtil et le Chœur) 3’03
 PANCRACE ROYER Le Pouvoir de l’Amour (1743)
26. Air pour les Jeux et les Plaisirs 1’19
 ANTOINE DAUVERGNE Les Amours de Tempé (1752)
27. « La jeune beauté qui m’enflamme… » (Daphnis)* 4’38
28. Air pantomime 1’56
29. « Chantons Bacchus, chantons Momus… » (Thespis et le Chœur) 1’34
 * World Premiere Recordings