Mstation Classical Reviews

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Tue, 05 Feb 2008

Boxed Baroque

I hope you had a pleasant Christmas and that 2008 treats you well. I usually spend Christmas in rural France and this year was no exception, as you might have gathered from my last column. Alas, France is going the Roundhead way - no more liesurely cigar with coffee after dinner in a restaurant or cafe, and more pertinently for this column, the non-drinking, non-smoking jogger, Sarkozy (a business Roundhead's wet dream if ever there was), is seen as a great threat by the many musical organisations that receive government help. I'm familiar with the arguement that if culture can't live commercially, it should be left to die and as you might guess, I take a loftier view and disagree. For one thing, mass "culture" is so gut-cringingly awful, and so bought-and-paid-for that there has to be some escape. I'm sure that support of these people lowers the national mental health bill.

Of course these things usually don't die completely. There are many performance societies in places like the USA where they play to friends and family and have a very nice time doing so. Look up your local ones (the web is the best place to look and church noticeboards can be helpful too) and see what's going on why not?

All of this is by way of introduction to a 20 CD boxset I just found. It's from Warners and is dedicated to French baroque - tous les genres! - as they exclaim: opera, divertisments, sacred, grand motet, ballet, and more! The players are star-studded and the composers are who you'd expect plus some names not many would recognise. The set is called 200 ans de Musique a Versailles - 200 years of music at Versailles. (Baron K)

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