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Les Boréades of Montreal

This week we’ll get an introduction to one of Montreal’s truly special ensembles, Les Boreades, plus a new release entitled Music of the Sistine Chapel.

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ensemble photo with double bass at right

Photo: Alain Lefort, 2008

Les Boreades of Montreal (far left: Francis Colpron, director).

The Canadian city of Montreal boasts many world-class early music ensembles. Of these, Les Boreades has created a special niche with its interpretations of music spanning the entire baroque era. Founded in 1991 by its artistic director, Francis Colpron, the ensemble has toured extensively and garnered critical acclaim for its recordings on the ATMA label. One particularly special citation was for a CD of music by Georg Philip Telemann in which it was awarded the Opus prize for best recording in the year 1999, which featured Francis Colpron and violinist Manfred Kramer as soloists.

The ensemble takes its name from Greek mythology. Argonauts, winged heroes, and sons of Boreas (god of the north wind and bringer of winter), the Boreads were two brothers named Calais and Zetes. The pair was known for their brief if not memorable participation in Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece.

Francis Colpron has made a number of recordings as soloist in his own right.  For the 1998 release entitled Bravade, which also featured Susie Napper, viol, and Hank Knox, organ, Colpron focused on the music of Jacob van Eyck and his contemporaries.

By far, the most unusual recordings by Les Boreades have been the multi-volume series called Beatles Baroque.  Described by critics as excellent, ingenious, and brilliant, the entire series was arranged by Eric Milnes, the group’s keyboardist.

One of the larger recording projects the ensemble has undertaken was to tackle the Handel masque “Acis and Galatea.  With soprano Suzie Leblanc and tenor Mark Bleeke in the title roles, the recording was unanimously praised.

The new release of the week is entitled Music of the Sistine Chapel, featuring the music of Palestrina and performed by the The Sixteen (Harry Christophers, dir.).

Music Heard On This Episode

Henry Purcell: Air: Fairest Isle
Karina Gauvin and Les Boreades (Francis Colpron, dir.) — Purcell (ATMA , 2006)
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Henry Purcell: Air: Fairest Isle
Karina Gauvin and Les Boreades (Francis Colpron, dir.) — Purcell (ATMA , 2006)
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G. P. Telemann: Concerto a 6 for traverso, violin solo, strings and continuo in E minor
Les Boréades — Suites and Concertos (ATMA , 1999)
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Joseph Bodin de Boismortier: Cantate L'Hyver
Karina Gauvin and Les Boreades — Hyver (ATMA , 2005)
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Henry Purcell: Air: One charming night from The Fairy Queen
Karina Gauvin and Les Boreades (Francis Colpron, dir.) — Purcell (ATMA , 2006)
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Sybrandt II van Noordt (166-1705): Sonata op. 1, no. 4 in G minor for recorder and continuo (7:15)
Francis Colpron, recorder, Susie Napper, viol, and Hank Knox, organ — Bravade: Jacob van Eyck & Cie (ATMA , 1998)
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Eric Milnes, arr.: Hello Goodbye
Les Boreades — Beatles Baroque II (ATMA , 2001)
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George Frideric Handel: Sinfonia; Chorus Oh, the pleasures of the plain
Les Boreades (Francis Colpron, dir.) — Acis and Galatea (ATMA , 2003)
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G. P. da Palestrina: Ave Maria a 5 and Ascendit Deus a 5
The Sixteen (Harry Christophers, dir.) — Music of the Sistine Chapel (COR 16047, 2007)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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