Charpentier: Te deum; Nuit; Messe de minuit

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Charpentier
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Te deum; Nuit; Messe de minuit
PERFORMER: Soloists; Les Musiciens du Louvre & Chorus/ Marc Minkowski
CATALOGUE NO: 453 479-2
Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre have produced some distinguished performances from the French Baroque, not least of music by Charpentier. Sadly, their renditions of Charpentier’s most famous pieces are a terrible disappointment. Recordings of the Te Deum are fairly numerous and new ones entering the field need to show a distinctive profile. This version seems determined to be the fastest and most breathless available. The result is depressingly perfunctory – many of the choruses come over as an undignified scramble, most damagingly in the ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ concluding ‘In te, Domine, speravi’ where all sense of exultation is squeezed out in a frantic dash to the double bar. While it is possible to admire the virtuosity of the performers there are times when it tips over into mannerism, the peculiarly blousy opening ‘Te Deum laudamus’ being a prime offender. Though no one wants a return to the ponderous style of performance of forty years ago, this wilful new manner really doesn’t serve the music better. Minkowski’s reading of Charpentier’s Messe de minuit is more appealing than that of the Te Deum, but there still seem to be moments of indifference to the sentiment of the music. Jan Smaczny