Lully: Grands Motets, Vol. 2: Quare fremuerunt; O lachrymae; Dies irae; De profundis

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COMPOSERS: Lully
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Grands Motets, Vol. 2: Quare fremuerunt; O lachrymae; Dies irae; De profundis
PERFORMER: Soloists; Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554398
The first volume of Le Concert Spirituel’s recordings of Lully’s ‘grands motets’ included his best-known sacred pieces, the Te Deum and the Miserere. Vol. 2 contains another of comparable merit, the Dies irae, as well as three other motets much less seldom encountered. A third volume will follow in due course, completing the most thoroughgoing survey to date of Lully’s sacred music on disc. Director Hervé Niquet achieves fluent and idiomatically stylish readings of these splendid pieces which are often colourfully evocative of our traditional image of the court of the Sun King. ‘Grands motets’ are multi-sectioned settings of psalms and canticles for solo voices, chorus and instruments. If Lully’s motets seldom reach the high level of poetic inspiration of Charpentier or Delalande, they are nevertheless affecting for their declamatory nobility and pathetic utterance. Niquet has a strong solo line-up that includes soprano Véronique Gens, tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt and bass Peter Harvey. But neither choir nor orchestra always matches them in expressive finesse and technical reliability. The performances are full of atmosphere, though, and the Dies irae and De profundis are well worth getting to know. Readers may need to be warned that this series has already been available in France and elsewhere on the now defunct FNAC label. Nicholas Anderson

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