As a child visiting Paris, Christophe Rousset demanded to be taken to the gorgeous Baroque palace and gardens of Versailles, now a byword for lavish ornamentation and luxurious decorative arts. It was the beginning of a brilliant career, and the inspiration for what has become his life’s work in the music of this era, first as a prodigious harpsichordist and then, since 1991, as the leader of his own extraordinary ensemble: Les Talens Lyriques. To experience their performance is to understand why the French gave us so many words like ‘élan’ and ‘panache’ – words which equally describe the stunning virtuosity of Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg, their featured soloist on this tour.
Playing period instruments in the tone and style which would have been familiar to Louis XIV, Les Talens wear their expertise lightly and without pretension. Christophe Rousset has put together a program fit for 18th-century royalty: a Baroque entertainment or Récréation, at which the audience are welcome guests. Entrancing instrumental works are woven amongst a series of heroines brought to life by Siobhan Stagg’s meltingly beautiful voice.