Reconstructed musical glories that saw Louis XIV banishing the night and heralding in a glittering era.

Le Concert Royal de la Nuit
Ensemble Correspondances/Sébastien Daucé
Harmonia Mundi HMC952223/24 (2CD)

You have times in history where a place becomes a centre, and at this time Paris was the centre. That’s why I wanted to add Italian music – to have a complete photograph of the richness of music at this time in Paris – Sebastien Daucé

Sun King trips the light fantastic

Louis XIV was 15 in 1653 when he took part in a lavishly staged ballet performed on seven evenings in the Salle du Petit-Bourbon at the Louvre Palace. The spectacle was remembered for decades after and gave Louis his title of “the Sun King”; the four “watches” of the night with some sinister post-midnight revelries culminated in a glorious dawn with the King strutting his stuff in a costume of glittering celestial glory.

Sébastien Daucé has spent three years recreating this work from fragments and disparate sources; a project of great scholarship, integrity and imagination. Amongst the anonymous dance tunes, and those of Jean de Cambefort, Daucé has interpolated airs du cour by Michel Lambert and Antoine Boësset, while scenes from Cavalli’s Ercole Amante and Rossi’s Orfeo have been added to remind us of the dominance of Italian opera in Parisian theatres before Lully. Ensemble Correspondances are superb exponents of this rarefied repertoire and the expansive forces of 18 voices and 33 instrumentalists deliver spine-tingling results.

Daucé’s singers are totally inside the style, pure of tone but with that essential French tang, and the players are superbly accomplished, bold and characterful. As expected from Harmonia Mundi the sound is vivid and upfront, the packaging is a stylish pleasure and the documentation a model of scholarly insight. – Warwick Arnold

The Runners Up

Agony and Ecstasy
Bel canto arias
Emma Matthews s, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra/Andrea Molino
ABC Classics 4814236

Iphigénie en Tauride
Caitlin Hulcup ms, Pinchgut Opera/Antony Walker
Pinchgut Live PG006 (2CD)

Cold Mountain
Santa Fe Opera/Miguel Harth-Bedoya
Pentatone PTC5186583  (2CD)

Netherlands Philharmonic/Marc Albrecht
Challenge Classics CC72686 (2CD)