André Campra

André Campra, French Baroque composer of Franco-Italian parentage, was baptised on this day 4 December, 1660.

André Campra. Photo: Peak View Music.

In the midst of Seventeenth Century French Baroque goliaths such as Jean-Baptiste Lully, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Marin Marais, and others, André Campra seems to have been lost in the mix, especially when Jean-Philippe Rameau appeared on the scene.

Campra shocked people when he introduced violins into sacred music playing at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris – where he was employed as music director. He wrote sacred music, cantatas, and a requiem mass. A little before 1700, he veered away from sacred music and began to focus his attentions on theatre music – opera. He wrote almost twenty operas including Iphigénie en Tauride, Idoménée, and Alcine. These three works have seen something of a renaissance in the past few years with recent recordings and people are beginning to once again sit up and take notice.

Campra’s music is top-notch, so let us sit back and take in some of this glorious – sometimes heavenly – and generally over-looked pieces of Baroque sumptuousness:

Let us begin with “L’Europe Galante” (1697):

Next, we have his “Messe des Morts” or Requiem, performed by the outstanding Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists conducted by John Eliot Gardiner:

Now, if you love stately/trumphant Baroque trumpet & choir pieces, this will knock your socks off.  Here is “Te Deum per soli, coro e orchestra” from 1729:

This next piece, “Le Carnaval de Venise,” is two hours long, but it’s definitely worth it, in my opinion:

Egads! What a lot of amazing Baroque music! I hope you enjoyed that. As for Campra, he  continued working in positions at the Royal Chapel at Versailles until his death at there in 1744 when he was at the ripe age of eight-three! (Better than most people, let alone composers!).

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