INKPOT#102: LULLY Grands Motets Vol.3. Le Concert Spirituel/Niquet (Naxos)
Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687)
Grands Motets Vol.3
Exaudiat te Dominus (Psalm 19)
O dulcissime Domine
Notus in Jedæa Deus (Psalm 75)
Laudate pueri Dominum (Psalm 112)
Le Concert Spirituel
directed by Hervé Niquet
performing on period instruments
Isabelle Desorchers · Julie Hassler sopranos
Brigitte Vinson mezzo-soprano · Stéfan van Dyck tenor
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt countertenor
Bernard Delétré · Peter Harvey baritones
Includes vocal texts in Latin with English translation.
by Chia Han-Leon
As with volumes 1 and 2 of this series, no hesitation is required for Lully- and/or Baroque choral repertoire fans, in considering this third album – go get it.
Volume 3 features five pieces, first the celebratory Exaudiat te Dominus, 15 minutes of exuberant musical commemoration believed to have been written for Louis XIV’s coronation or its anniversary celebration. Like the beautiful Benedictus, this music is both utterly graceful yet lively, formally beautiful yet springing with the life of the Baroque dance.
An expressive O dulcissime Domine for two sopranos provide a brief, smaller-scale interlude before the grandeur returns in the aristocratic and formal Notus in Jedæa Deus for full forces. The setting of Laudate pueri Dominum proves to be an absolute gem, a 7-minute work for both sopranos and mezzo-soprano, with some remarkable interplay of their vocal talents showcasing Lully’s brilliant writing – the ladies here pull off the performance most pleasantly.
A full choir, orchestra and complement of vocal soloists fielded by the so-far unfaltering Le Concert Spirituel forces under Hervé Niquet prove again their mastery of this music. Sensuous colour, luscious sounds and above all that unmistakable and unique French brand of grace dance through this music (as if you haven’t heard these lines from me before).
The soloists once again are only listed inside the liner notes and not on either the CD’s front cover or back – nevertheless, they provide nothing but delicious sounds. Rare is the Baroque choral/vocal album that doesn’t elicit at least a small measure of critical response against its singers; but here I can only say that the sheer anonymity of the soloists (due to the lack of attention the CD production displays to them) only magnifies their excellence. Surely, such a magnificent group of soloists deserve some individual mention.
Beyond the usual instrumental makeup, the indefatigable Le Concert Spirituel orchestra entertain with bouncy theorbos, chirping recorders, fluttering flutes, grand trumpets and royally boisterous kettledrums in splendidly engineered sound recorded in 1994. There is nothing whatsoever in this series so far to suggest any sub-par performance and recording standards. Naxos as usual.
One of Chia Han-Leon’s most vivid memories of France is looking at a blur and distant Mona Lisa from a distance of about 20 feet.