Un flambeau

COMPOSERS: Marc-Antoine Charpentier
LABELS: Naxos
PERFORMER: Aradia Ensembles
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557036

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Another Naxos disc (8.557036, £4.99) brings Vol. 2 in the excellent Canadian period-instrument Aradia Ensembles series of Noels and Christmas motets by MARC-ANTOINE CHARPENTIER. As both one-time house-composer to Moliere and maitre de musique at Paris’s leading Jesuit church, Charpentier brought a real theatrical touch, and occasional humour, to his histoires sacrees.

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Here, two alternative Latin settings of the Nativity story — each following the same pattern of prophetical introduction, suspenseful ‘night’ interlude and final shepherds’ awakening — are framed by three variously scored versions of the delightful drone-based pastoral ‘Un flambeau’. Despite this essentially repetitious programme, the vivacity of the singing and variety of instrumental colour make this disc a constant delight.