André Campra (1660 - 1744)

Campra was among the foremost composers for the Parisian theatre of his time. He is credited with composing the first opéra-ballet, L’Europe galante, which met with great success following its first performance in 1697.


Cam 1

Les Femmes

Cantata

for bass, two violins and continuo

Price: £ 7.50

This cantata, from Campra's first book reflects his desire to unify Italian and French styles, with its blend of vivacious arias and gentle French airs.

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Cam 2

Silène

Cantata

for bass, two violins and continuo

Price: £ 10.50

The present work, Silène, is taken from his second book of cantatas, published in Paris in 1714. The text of Silène is by Antoine Danchet, a librettist much in demand at the time, particularly for the compositions of tragédies lyriques. Campra collaborated with him over a long period from Hésione (1700) to Achille et Deidamie (1735). Danchet based his libretto for Silène on the sixth Eclogue of Publius Virgilius Maro (Virgil, 70-19 BCE) the classical pastoral poet. In it two shepherd boys Chromis and Mnasyllus come across Silenus sleeping in a cave, and to tease him into singing for them, tie him up, abetted by the naiad Aegle. Awoken, Silenus promises them a song, and a quite different treat for the lovely naiad. Virgil’s original song is a hymn to pastoral bliss, but Danchet gives us a song extolling drink. Campra gives us an air abounding with Italianate vivacity.

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Cam 3

Two Motets

for bass (F-e'), two violins & continuo

Price: £ 10.50

Exurge Domine
Laudate Dominum

Campra’s drive to innovation extended also to his church music, where he was successful in gaining the permission of the canons of Notre-Dame to use violins to accompany the singers. He published in all five books of Motets for one to three voices – the so called petits motets. The first three books book appeared in 1695, 1700 and 1703 respectively, and contain in all seven worksfor one vo ce with two violins. The motet in Book 3 is titled Motet à la Manière Italienne,  acknowledging the influence of the Italian cantata on Campra. Two further books of motets for one to three voices appeared in  1706 and 1720.

 The two motets of the present edition, Exurge Domine  and Laudate Dominum (Psalm CXLVIII), are taken from Books I and II respectively. We are grateful to the British Library for making available the copies in the Hirsch Library for study.

 These motets are for bass voice with two violins: four other motets in these books are for soprano (dessus) and countertenor (haute-contre) respectively. The text of Exurge Domine  is collated from lines taken from a number of psalms: it is therefore not part of a church liturgy, but would have served as a musical offering, much as an anthem or hymn. The second motet is a setting of the well known Psalm 148.  Both consist of a number of airs in different time signatures and moods, and the Psalm setting also has a linking recitative passage between two of the airs: in this respect they are similar to cantatas in their structure.

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