M.-A. Charpentier: Motets pour une Princesse

Ensemble Marguerite Louise, Gaétan Jarry organ/director
67:00
encelade ECL1403
H 163, 186, 196, 232, 329, 330, 523 + organ music by Boyvin

The English translations on the cover and in the booklet are so awful that I had to force myself to listen to the music! The writer seems to have little understanding of either the original or the target language, or the music, come to that. And the cover illustration belongs on a bonkbuster novel. Moving swiftly on, the programme is full of musical interest, offering vocal pieces by M-AC in alternation with organ music by his near-contemporary Jacques Boyvin played on a modern instrument in French Classical style. This is a good and effective programming idea though the solo organ sounds rather distant. On the other hand the vocal music, while very clear, could perhaps use a little more sense of the space in the sound, which is unusually dead for an ecclesiastical venue. The performers stand up well to this close scrutiny and their relaxed approach keeps the v-word at bay and allows us to enjoy their excellent tuning of the rich harmony. I just wish that directors of this music could resist the temptation to overscore it. The bassoon sounds a most unlikely bass when there are no reeds on top. But it is good to hear the specified bass recorder in H196.

David Hansell