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Recordings

Alpha Classics 968
09 May 2018

Grands motets de Lalande

Majesté, a new recording by Le Poème Harmonique, led by Vincent Dumestre, of music by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) new from Alpha Classics. Le Poème Harmonique are regular visitors to London, appreciated for the variety of their programes. On Friday this week, (11/5) they'll be at St John's Smith Square as part of the London Festival of Baroque, with a programme titled "At the World's Courts".

Majesté : Lalande, Grands motets pour le Roi-Soliel, Le Poème Harmonique , Vincent Dumestre,Ensemble Aedes

A review by Anne Ozorio

Alpha Classics 968 [CD]

$18.99  Click to buy

Since the theme of this year's London Baroque Festival is Treasures from Le grand Siècle their concert will naturally include music from the court of Louis XIV, such as Lully and Charles Tessier, but with typical Le Poème Harmonique flair will focus on the French fascination with turqueries, works evoking Turkey, Arabia, China and beyond. The origins of Orientalism, which would bear fruit with Rameau Les Indes Galantes and much more.

This new recording, however, focuses on music Lalande wrote for the Chapelle Royale at Versailles, where he officiated for more than 40 years, producing 77 grands motets for the Messe du Roi. Since the monarch was Louis XIV, religious ceremonies glorified not only God but his temporal French equivalent, a consideration to take into account given the relationship between the Papacy and the French court. On this recording Vincent Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique present three of these grands motets, Deitatis Majestate, Ecce nunc benedicte and a Te Deum.

The earliest of these, Dietatis Majestate, dates from 1681 before Lalande took up his posts at Court. As Thomas Leconte writes, it "unfolds in a single majestic sweep from a succession of récits mostly for vocal trio or quartet, and grand choral sections regularly punctuated by instrumental interludes". Ecce nunc Benedicte (1683) is a setting of Psalm 133 and may have been used on feast days. It is "at once grave and festive". Vocal ensembles alternate with elaborate choruses. At its heart is a récit, "in noctibus extollite", where the soloists, are shadowed by an instrumental récit, high voices entwining against a backdrop of low timbres (bassoon, low-pitched winds and strings). The Te Deum was performed and revised many times, becoming a regular repertoire for Le Consort Spirituel, created to provide Paris with music during Lent when non-religious music was proscribed. The version used here is based on an early manuscript, retaining various revisions made over time, enabling modern performers to understand the evolution of performance practice. It is an impressive piece , each short section flowing elegantly into the next. "Tu Rex gloriae, Christe", the organ singing along with the voices. But the last lines "Et rege eos et extolle illos unique in aeternum" could apply to,other potentates as well, and are set with suitably glorious flourish. Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre are joined by soloists Emmanuelle de Negri, Dagmar Šašková, Sean Clayton, Cyril Auvity and Andre Morsch with Ensemble Aedes (led by Mathieu Romano). .

Anne Ozorio

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