Gossec - Aux Armes, Citoyens: Royal and Revolutionary Music for Winds
Les Jacobins; Mathieu Lussier
ATMA ACD2 2595
Absolute monarchy, revolution, terror, Napoleon, restored monarchy - François-Joseph Gossec lived through all of this over his 95 years. And he orchestrated La Marseillaise.
Despite name and title, this CD features both royalist and revolutionary music. So, with our six period-woodwind instrumentalists, we aristos can ride with the Grande Chasse de Chentilli to the accompaniment of clarinets, horns and bassoons. Then, revolutionaries, we lower our flags as we remember assassinated Deputy Feraud.
Back on course we hear La Marseilaise. Gossec’s arrangement starts at a quick revolutionary pace but ends in a more stately, Royalist, tempo. Gossec hedges his bets...
And so to five revolutionary airs under Mathieu Lussier’s artistic direction. Ça ira leads. It inspired the French revolutionaries (and one English officer who actually made it his regimental march). In fact, most of this suite is rather un-revolutionary in its tempo - but still a wonderful opportunity to hear authentic Baroque woodwind solos. We arrive at the battlefield with four short pieces. Clarinets, bassoons, and horns boost our morale as we march, playing spiritedly as we engage our foe at close quarters, and with dignity as victory is ours.
More relaxing are Gossec’s Andante and Chasse d’Hylas et Sylvie. Gossec’s interest in the clarinet, new in France when he was composing in the early 1770s, is ably demonstrated by Jane Booth and Martin Carpentier.
Gossec’s hymns to liberty are more reflective than brash; the same is true of his Simphonie à 6. What Les Jacobins have done here is to publicise the vast store of undiscovered French revolutionary music.