Charpentier: Missa Assumpta est Maria; Sancti Dei per fidem vicerunt regna; O Salutaris Hostia; Domine Salvum fac Regem

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COMPOSERS: Charpentier
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Missa Assumpta est Maria; Sancti Dei per fidem vicerunt regna; O Salutaris Hostia; Domine Salvum fac Regem
PERFORMER: Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 921617

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The Missa Assumpta est Maria is the last and in many respects most magnificent of Charpentier’s 11 Masses. The rich scoring for six-part vocal ensemble with soloists, four-strand string texture with recorder and basso continuo lends the work an aural sumptuousness and a degree of fervour found only intermittently in the other Masses.

Hervé Niquet succeeds in conveying this expressive nobility and declamatory grandeur more successfully than the few existing rival versions that have preceded the present performance.

This can be found above all in the glorious contrapuntal writing of the Gloria, the Credo and the brief but radiant Sanctus, in which the choir of Le Concert Spirituel, aided by spacious recorded sound, conveys the splendour and profundity of Charpentier’s art.

In addition to the sections of the Mass, Niquet has introduced a handful of items which, though contextually appropriate, do not belong to Charpentier’s score. For the most part they fit in well, though the abrupt key change between the conclusion of the Credo and the beginning of an interpolated instrumental Offertory (H508) is somewhat uncomfortable.

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Overall, though, this is musically and interpretatively satisfying. Le Concert Spirituel possess a fluency which complements the graceful eloquence of Charpentier’s style. Nicholas Anderson