Rameau: Deus noster refugium; Quam dilecta; In convertendo

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Deus noster refugium; Quam dilecta; In convertendo
PERFORMER: Véronique Gens, Isabelle Desrochers (soprano), Jean-Paul Fouchécourt (tenor), Hervé Lamy (baritone), Peter Harvey, Marcos Loureiro de Sa (bass-baritone), Stephan Imbodem (bass); Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet
CATALOGUE NO: VM 5 61526 2 Reissue (1993)
Louis XIV preferred to attend Low Mass, to enjoy the music of an extended Grand Motet veiling the priest’s quietly-spoken liturgy. Rameau’s extant contribution to the genre numbers only these three, recorded in 1993. The scanty booklet offers no indications of who sings what, no translations of the three Latin psalms. The music, however, is inspired, the recording warmly resonant yet lucid, the performance from this native French ensemble admirable.

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Deus noster refugium is strikingly indebted to the operatic divertissement. ‘Hills [are] carried into the midst of the sea’ on landslides of string tremolos; in a full-blooded storm scene, ‘mountains shake at the tempest of the sea’. Only the lavish stage set and machinery is missing.

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Quam dilecta reflects Rameau’s sensitivity to instrumental colours, flutes and solo strings describing the peace of ‘amiable dwellings’ behind an evocative soprano line (Véronique Gens). If the chorus lacks the keen cutting edge of the strings in the following fugue, worked out with Bachian ingenuity, Fouchécourt’s pianissimo description of the swallow on her nest is breathtaking. He’s outstanding too at the opening of In convertendo, a wonderfully fluid line capturing the varying metres of French recitative. Repertoire – and performance – not to be missed. George Pratt