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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Charpentier, Litanies De La Vierge, Motets, Sébastien Daucé, Ensemble Correspondances

When it comes to the French baroque, for vocal music it is hard to beat Rameau. But then there is Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) a composer of great depth and expressivity. A court composer for Louis XIV, he was the rival of Lully for the favor of the King and the fame it could engender. This late in the game my opinion is of no account, nor would it ever would have been. But listening to Sébastien Daucé conduct Ensemble Correspondances in a recent recording of Charpentier's Litanies De La Vierge and Motets (Harmonia Mundi 902169), I am convinced once again.

It does help to hear this music gloriously performed in period style with the chamber ensemble, the authentic stringed instruments, and vocalists in the original manner, without much vibrato.

Charpentier had a great inventiveness, as this music attests. I won't go into much detail here except to say that along with Rameau, there is a real sweetness to his vocal works, when performed in the proper, period-specific style. And these are impeccable, moving renditions. Charpentier may not have always had the courtly pomp of Lully, but in my opinion he is all the better for it.

The result is one happy reviewer. Me. If you have an interest in the period as it played out in France, you should make a point of hearing this disk.

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