Clerambault: Motets pour Saint-Sulpice

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COMPOSERS: Clerambault
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Motets pour Saint-Sulpice
PERFORMER: Gérard Lesne (alto), Mark Padmore (tenor), Josep-Miquel Ramon i Monzó (bass); Il Seminario Musicale
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45415 2
Apart from a single disc of motets recorded in 1993, Clérambault’s 100 pieces in this genre are barely known. The nine here are all for the characteristically French male ensemble, haute-contre, taille and basse, coloured distinctively by French Latin pronunciation – ‘u’ as in ‘tu’, sibilant ‘c’, soft ‘g’. Recorded sound is a little disappointing, though. Perhaps to clarify detail in the cavernous-sounding acoustic of Notre-Dame du Liban in Paris, voices are close, the perspective of performers themselves rather than congregation.


The music is beautiful, especially the sensuous Marian motets. Lesne and continuo create a jaunty celebration of the Virgin as the ‘Morning Star’. Salve regina, with gentle, stylish inegalité, begins as a similarly dancing address to the Virgin before a chaconne of gaunt detached chords below pleading voices. O deliciis affluens opens with almost every note bedecked with imaginative ornament – the three singers are experienced hands at this, as are Il Seminario Musicale, providing flute, two violins (a touch raw in unison) and continuo.


Thanks to the editing team of scholars working in the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, Clérambault, known hitherto principally for his organ works, is revealed as composer of a wealth of charming and intimate vocal music. George Pratt