Campra; Couperin

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COMPOSERS: Campra; Couperin
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Campra & Couperin
WORKS: Salve regina; Insere Domine; Quemadmodum desiderat cervus; Florete prata
PERFORMER: Paul Agnew, Anne-Marie Lasia, Les Arts Florissants, William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: 545 7202
All the pieces in this recital of petits motets have been recorded before, but there are, nevertheless, some rarities of great beauty which have not been revisited for a while. Here are single voice motets by two of the most accomplished composers in this expressively restrained but often intense medium. François Couperin composed some 20 or more such pieces and André Campra about the same. Paul Agnew has chosen his programme with discernment and has included several of their most plangently expressive motets. Among the most impressive are Couperin’s C minor Audite omnes with two violins, and Campra’s setting of verses from Psalm 42, Quemadmodum desiderat cervus (Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks).

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Agnew’s close attention to textual nuance enables us to discover many a subtle detail in the music. His declamation is clear and authoritative and his ability to embrace comfortably the higher reaches of a tessitura adds an important lyrical dimension. The discreetly tasteful accompaniment of William Christie and Anne-Marie Lasla sets the seal on a rewarding issue. Nicholas Anderson