Les Cris de Paris, Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre
Alpha Classics Alpha 285
Though the repertoire is not without interest (Clarke) and even from the top drawer (Purcell), I was left feeling rather underwhelmed by this. The programme opens with Clarke’s rather short-breathed Ode on the death of Henry Purcell. Though they are quite grand in conception, Clarke cannot sustain the more elaborate sections: the recitatives are much more effective, helped by sympathetic performers. Purcell is represented by the Funeral Music and Welcome to all the pleasures. In the former, the March is introduced by a solo drum passage which to me sounds too elaborate and is also a bit fast.
The vocal music needs a more focussed sound from the alto and less soprano vibrato in the solo sections and a bit more refined discipline all round in the choral singing. But what music! In Welcome… a few performance practice decisions will raise many eyebrows: the addition of oboes to the strings; the use of a falsettist for Here the deities (especially one who isn’t quite good enough); the scoring of this number (a consort of recorders takes the symphony) and several other details. The booklet essay is in three languages (Eng/Fr/Ger) but the sung English texts are translated into French only and there are no artist biographies.