Lully: Dies iræ, De profundis, Te Deum

[Sophie Junker, Judith Van Wanroij, Matthias Vidal, Cyril Auvity, Thiabut Lenaerts, Alain Buet], Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Millenium Orchestra, Leonardo Gracía Alarcón
Alpha Classics Alpha 444

This is the kind of repertoire (and the kind of performances) that make it easy to understand why Lully was the favoured royal composer and how his was such an important voice in the development of the grand motet even though he had no involvement with the regular chapel music. There is an interesting and clear explanation in the notes of the musical politics involved. The Dies Irae opens as if it were to be a standard overture but the startling entry of the choir men singing the solemn plainchant rather sets the tone for the dramatic variety to come. The choir and orchestra are both very accomplished and comfortable in the style, though there are a few moments when the former’s crisp rhythms veer too close to clipped for my taste. Other small reservations are a few rather laboured ornaments and some less-than-beautiful tone from one of the male soloists but I still really enjoyed the programme. It was while ‘conducting’ the concluding ebullient Te Deum that Lully sustained (possibly) the most famous injury in the history of music.

David Hansell

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