Le Poème Harmonique

Formed in 1998, Le Poème Harmonique is a group of soloists, gathered around its artistic director Vincent Dumestre. Its artistic activity, which centres on vocal and instrumental music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, is regularly enriched by interaction with other disciplines – this being Le Poème Harmonique’s hallmark in Baroque performance.

Actors, dancers, circus artists and puppeteers join the ensembles, singers and musicians in programmes of chamber works – Le Ballet des Fées, Il Fasolo – and, since 2004, in large-scale stage productions, such as Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (a comédie-ballet by Molière and Lully; stage director Benjamin Lazar) and Baroque Carnival (directed by Cécile Roussat). For operatic performances, such as Lully’s Cadmus et Hermione and Cavalli’s Egisto (both staged by Benjamin Lazar), Le Poème Harmonique studies the relationship between ‘period’ and modern stage productions – use of candles for lighting, authentic gestures, painted sets and machinery. The ensemble returns to the sources of early French and Italian music by exploring its relationships with traditional music – the recording entitled Aux Marches du Palais is devoted to traditional French songs.

Twenty-five per cent of Le Poème Harmonique’s activity takes place in the Haute-Normandie Region. However, since it was founded, the ensemble has presented numerous tours in Europe, including recent debuts in London, Vienna and Madrid. It has a particularly strong rapport with audiences in Rome, New York and Tokyo.

Outstanding events of the past seasons include Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Baroque Carnival and Cadmus et Hermion, all of which have been exceptionally successful, with almost 130 performances, at venues including the Opéra Comique, Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and Cité de la Musique in Paris, the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, Théâtre de Caen, Grand Théâtre de Provence at Aix-en-Provence, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, the Utrecht Festival, Teatro Canal in Madrid, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, the National Theatre in Prague, the Budapest Spring Festival and the San Francisco Cal Performances Festival.

The ensemble’s recent stage projects have included the first performances of Pagliardi’s Caligula in September 2011, and of Cavalli’s Egisto, at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, then at the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie, in February 2012. Furthermore, as part of its residency in 2013-2014, Le Poème Harmonique will be presenting Purcell’s Dido and Æneas at Rouen Opéra. In 2014-2015, again with the Opéra-Comique and Rouen Opéra, the ensemble will be performing Molière’s Le Malade Imaginaire, with music by Charpentier.

The ensemble’s recordings for ALPHA have met with rare public success (over 150,000 CDs and DVDs sold since 1998) and also with great critical acclaim. Le Poème Harmonique has received the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros, the Diapason d’Or (including Best DVD of 2006 for Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme), a Prelude Classical Award in 2003, the Antonio Vivaldi International Award (Cini Foundation, Venice), the Caecilia Press Prize and recommendations from Opéra International, Classica and Le Monde de la Musique. The DVD of Cadmus et Hermione, released in 2008, was also exceptionally well received (Diapason d’Or, recommended by Classica, BBC Music Choice, German Record Critics’ Award, etc.).

January 2014