Age of Indulgence

Les Délices





On their Navona debut AGE OF INDULGENCE, early music ensemble Les Délices presents an exquisite compendium of unique and rare instrumental music from the last generation of French Baroque composers. The album’s repertoire shines a spotlight on lesser-known – yet powerfully skilled – composers active in the most important circles of mid- and late-eighteenth century Parisian musical society.


The instrumental works on the album are elegantly detailed with many of the dominant French and European musical ideas of the era, including several of the genres that lay at the core of Baroque music. Conveyed in the immaculate performances of Les Délices’ acclaimed instrumentalists, AGE OF INDULGENCE is a sophisticated look back to a rich crossroads in the history of French music.


The two quartets from François-André Philidor’s l’Art de la Modulation (1755) found on the album – Sinfonia V and Sinfonia I – are defined by fast, unexpected harmonic shifts, creating a sense of exploration and surprise. The warmth and ease that opens Sinfonia V quickly gives way to diminished harmonies, chromaticism, and jaunty modulations, before the quartet ends with a playful, virtuosic theme and variations.


In Sinfonia I, the opening interplay between oboe and violin presents piquant chromatic inflections and plangent melodic intervals abound. The momentary calm of sonorous drones follows some disquieting melodic augmentations, with the peace soon ended by wistful departures and chromatic shocks that arrest the listener. The closing Gavotte pops and crackles with excitement.


The ensemble’s performance of Sonata Seconda, Op. 2 captures the essential style of composer Michel Blavet, who was renowned for combining incredible refinement and expression with a virtuoso technique inspired by the Italian violin school. While the opening prelude has a sensitive air with particularly French sensibilities, the sonata ultimately reflects Italian extroversion in its middle and concluding passages.


Echoing the spirit of chamber arrangements of excerpts from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s operas, AGE OF INDULGENCE presents adapted selections from the composer’s operatic oeuvre with Extraits d’operas. The ensembles arrangements include selections from Rameau’s Les Fêtes de l’Hymen (1747); the 1744-version of Dardanus; and Les Boréades (1763). Though Les Boréades was never produced in the 18th century, the surviving score contains remarkable music and suggests a fanciful staging. Its Entrée de Polymnie replete with cascades of flowing scales and layered suspensions that approach the sublime.


AGE OF INDULGENCE provides snapshots for the most important trends in French composition in the eighteenth century. We hear the unique characteristics of the French Baroque, namely lush harmonies, and ornate melodic embellishments, as well as intricate counterpoint and virtuosic instrumental writing suggestive of German and Italian trends, respectively.


The album’s works are made more poignant when one considers the composers on the album were among the final generation of Baroque composers. Their music pays tribute not only to earlier generations of French artists, but also bids farewell to the Baroque Era itself.




Founded by baroque oboist Debra Nagy in 2009, Les Délices is a Cleveland-based touring ensemble that explores the dramatic potential and emotional resonance of long-forgotten music.


The New York Times describes the ensemble’s programming and recordings as “thematically concise, richly expressive, and featuring composers few people have heard of and even fewer have performed.”


After a performance at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre in Manhattan, the venue’s executive director Melissa Smey, the executive director of Columbia University’s Miller Theater, has praised the ensemble as an “early-music group with an avant-garde appetite.”


Although AGE OF INDULGENCE is an entirely instrumental album, the ensemble’s capable performances capture the drama and rhetorical flourishes of opera, which was an enormously important genre in eighteenth-century French Baroque music.






Mi PalPita il Cor:

Baroque Passions (NV6056)













Release Date: June 9, 2017

Catalog #: NV6098





Les Délices  |  Debra Nagy baroque oboe  Julie Andrijeski baroque violin

Karina Schmitz baroque violin  Emily Walhout viola da gamba

Michael Sponseller harpsichord


1 Sinfonia V   François-André Philidor

from l’Art de la modulation

Debra Nagy, Julie Andrijeski, Karina Schmitz, Emily Walhout, Michael Sponseller

Adagio - Fuga Moderato - Andante - Aria con variazione


Sonata Seconda, Op. 2   Michel Blavet

Debra Nagy, Emily Walhout, Michael Sponseller

2  Andante La Vibray

3  Allemanda

4  Gavotta Les Caquets

5  Sarabanda 

6  Allegro 


Extraits d’Opéras   Jean-Philippe Rameau

Debra Nagy, Julie Andrijeski, Karina Schmitz, Emily Walhout, Michael Sponseller

7  Air Gracieux from Les Boréades

8  Entrée de Polymnie from Les Boréades

9  Sarabande en rondeau from Les Fêtes de l’Hymen

10 Chaconne from Dardanus

11  Tambourins from Dardanus


12 Les Sauvages   Jean-Pierre Guignon

from Pièces de differens auteurs à deux violons, op. 8

Julie Andrijeski, Karina Schmitz


Pièces de Clavecin   Jacques Duphly

Michael Sponseller

13   Rondeau

14   Le Félix


15 Sinfonia I   François-André Philidor

from l’Art de la modulation

Debra Nagy, Julie Andrijeski, Karina Schmitz, Emily Walhout, Michael Sponseller

Con spirito - L’arte della fuga - Pastorella - Gavotta




All tracks recorded Nov 2-4, 2015 at First Baptist Church in Shaker Heights, OH

Recording Session Producer Erica Brenner

Recording Session Engineer Bruce Egre


All photos are by Steven Mastroianni


Heartfelt thanks to Joseph Sopko & Elizabeth Macintyre, Bill Busta & Joan Tomkins, Linda Nakell, Jane Richmond, Costa Petridis, Peter Andrijeski, Deborah Malamud & Neil Plotkin, Ana de Freitas Boe, Marie-Hélène Bernard, Robert Mealy, and many more generous donors for their support of this project!


Thanks also to Lisa Goode Crawford for the generous loan of the harpsichord used on this recording.


Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw

A&R Alex Bourne

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy

Engineer Manager Lucas Paquette

Art & Production Director Brett Picknell

Graphic Design Emily Roulo, Ryan Harrison

Marketing Scott Murphy



NAVONA Records is the contemporary classical label imprint of audio production house PARMA Recordings. Dedicated to highlighting forward thinking composers and musicians from around the world, the New England-based label's eclectic catalog offers listeners a cross-section of today's up-and-coming innovators in orchestral, chamber, and experimental music.



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