Floral design

De Lalande: Grands motets
[Emmanuelle De Negri soprano, Dagmar Šašková soprano, Sean Clayton haute-contre, Cyril Auvity tenor, Andre Morsch basse], Ensemble Aedes, Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre
Alpha 968

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ew composers of grands motets  did grand  with quite the instinct for brilliance of Michel-Richard de Lalande. Even in these relatively early works he displays a sure structural hand as solo récits, ensembles and grand choruses succeed each other in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) praise to and of kings both divine and earthly. The performing forces are large, though not implausibly so, and the orchestral strings correctly distributed across a single violin line above three viola voices and the basses de violon. Splendid though the two shorter pieces are, they are inevitably over-shadowed by the powerhouse that is the Te Deum  – core repertoire at the Concert Spirituel as well as at court – in which the choral writing reminded me more than once of Handel in ceremonial mode. As usual I wish that the lady soloists could display a little more care over their use of vibrato but the gentlemen are splendid, especially in ensemble. I have in the past found this director a little free-and-easy in matters of performance practice in earlier music and here, too, this is a bit of an issue. I just don’t believe that Lalande ever deployed recorders at the pitch we hear at the opening of the Te Deum. They really don’t add further lustre to what is already a colourful sound: it’s just an annoying squeak to me. But as with pretty much any Lalande programme there is much here that both impresses and gives joy. The booklet offers Fre/Eng/Ger essays but the sung Latin texts are translated into Eng/Fre only.

David Hansell

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