De Croes: Motetten

Bettina Pahn, Julian Podger, Peter Harvey STB, Cappela Brugensis, Collegium Instrumental Brugense, Patrick Peire
Et’cetera KYC 1605 ((c) 2003)

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 18th-century Dutch composer Henri-Jacques de Croes served a number of noble households throughout Europe, including the Thurn und Taxis family in Frankfurt and Charles of Lorraine. These motets are essentially cantatas with sections for chorus and solo voices, all with string accompaniment, and stylistically owe a lot to the music of Antonio Vivaldi. We also find him falling under the musical spell of more modern composers such as Handel, but – as he lived until 1786 when he would have been over eighty – his music must have sounded quaintly old-fashioned by the time he retired. Just occasionally, de Croes does something a little more distinctive and idiosyncratic, such as the bagpipe drone effects at the opening of Confitemini Domine, but these are fleeting instances of originality in a style which is generally almost entirely conventional and derivative. These performances are attractive, with beautifully measured solo contributions, and fine choral and orchestral performances throughout. Sadly for de Croes, the 18th century was packed with gifted composers, well-known and neglected, who had much more to say musically than he seemed to.

D. James Ross

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