COMPOSERS: Du Mont
WORKS: Grands motets
PERFORMER: Ricercar Consort, Namur Chamber Choir/Philippe Pierlot
CATALOGUE NO: RIC 202
Du Mont, though thinly represented on disc, was highly influential in modernising French sacred music of the 17th century. He was Belgian-born, from Liège, where the Italian continuo-based style was firmly established. After he moved to Paris in 1640, several large collections of his music played a significant part in changing French taste from Renaissance-style polyphony to the new idiom.
This performance reproduces the scale likely in Louis XIV’s Court Chapelle – five solo voices of the Petit Choeur, 19 more for the contrasting Grand Choeur and a small string ensemble. The choirs contrast not in complexity but in weight – thrilling at the start of the Magnificat. Pierlot sustains the driving pulse implicit in Du Mont’s setting, despite the fragmenting tendency of continually changing text. Within the limited palette – voices and strings – there is a positive kaleidoscope of textures, with every conceivable combination of voices culminating in powerful blocks of choral sound.
Of the five motets, ‘O flos convalium’ is performed with solo voices and strings only, demonstrating an option described by a 17th-century commentator. The brief six-syllable lines of this Marian adoration invite short dancing phrases framing a touchingly poignant plea for mercy.
Very warmly commended, though, at 52 minutes, a touch parsimonious. George Pratt