Etienne Moulinié: Meslanges pour la Chapelle d’un Prince

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COMPOSERS: Etienne Moulinié
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Etienne Moulinié: Meslanges pour la Chapelle d’un Prince
WORKS: Meslanges pour le Chapelle d’un Prince; plus works by Boësset, De Chancy & Louis Constantin
PERFORMER: Ensemble Correspondances/ Sébastien Daucé (harpsichord, organ)

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Etienne Moulinié (1600-69), master of the air de cour, spent most of his life in the service of Gaston de France, Duke of Orléans. His lute songs are perfect gems and something of their melancholic delicacy can be heard in the music he wrote for the Duke’s devout second wife, Marguerite de Lorraine. 

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Save for the precision of Ensemble Correspondance’s French Latin pronunciation, this recording of Moulinié’s 1658 collection Mélanges de sujets chrétiens, litanies et motets might emanate from an Oxbridge choir. The voices are chaste, pure and a few years shy of optimal technical control. Moulinié’s brief motets, many of them under two minutes duration, display the solo-duet-consort contrasts common to most European music of this period. It is the curve of the melodies and the soft timbre of the instrumentation – low recorders, high viols, organ, lute – that mark them out as French. O bone Jesu appears twice in Sébastien Daucé’s programme, once with voices, once with instruments. A trio of male voices opens Magi videntes stellam, trills flicker across the repetitions of ‘Ora pro nobis’ in the Litanies de la Vierge, but the standout works, though, are Antoine Boësset’s Jesu nostra redemptio and Popule meus quid fecit tibi. Anna Picard