LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Beati quorum remissae sunt; Quam dilecta; Audite coeli quae loquor
PERFORMER: Salomé Haller (soprano), Damien Guillon (countertenor), Howard Crook, Hervé Lamy (tenor), Alain Buet (bass); Les Pages et les Chantres de Versailles, La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy/Olivier Schneebeli
CATALOGUE NO: 5 45531 2
‘I know, we’ll shut all 16 in separate rooms and give them the same text so there’ll be no conferring or cheating!’ ‘Great idea, sire.’ ‘But of course I require young de Lalande to win.’ ‘Of course, sire.’ Nice to know, as you nervously scribble your exam for the post of sous-maître of the Royal Chapel, that Louis XIV is waiting to regrade your motet A+++. We can’t tell if the other candidates in this 1683 showdown were robbed: of their 16 test motets on Psalm 33, only Lalande’s survives, recorded here for the first time.
It’s a nice idea to do it live. Great music can take noises off, impossible balances and on-the-day wobbles – but not this Ready, Steady, Compose! effort: though in Audite coeli quae loquor, presumably written without invigilation, Lalande finds fine fury for Our Father’s fulminations from Deuteronomy (‘I will make mine arrows drunk with blood’). Still, if these performances had the decorum and drama that William Christie brings to Lalande’s mature motets (Harmonia Mundi), they’d get top marks, but I’m afraid it’s a pat on the back for effort and a gold star for the informative booklet note. Nick Morgan