Lully: Te Deum, Biber: Missa Salisburgensis

Les Pages du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, Collegium 1704, Collegium Vocale 1704, dir. Václav Luks

Although this is a Versailles production, the performances were filmed in Rome’s rather gorgeous Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano. I have two reservations about the performance practice on view. Are theorbo and harp really appropriate continuo instruments for either piece, and should both works really sound at the same pitch? Is this pitch (415) actually correct for either of them? Apart from that, the performances themselves are very good.

I have rather more issues with the format and the use made of it. Particularly if a concert is to be filmed, someone has to think about what it looks like. Someone should have told the conductor to re-tie his tie before he went on stage and also that his light brown suit looked pretty awful in the context of everyone else’s black, and the singers should have been warned to continue to look engaged and not to stare blankly into the middle distance when not directly involved in the performance.

And the potential of the medium has scarcely had its surface scratched. There are no extras, no subtitles and the encores (repeats of sections of the mass and which need not have been included) are not identified. In addition, the camera-work is quite pedestrian and there is no real attempt to convey the spatial aspects of the Biber.

So not a visual success I’m afraid, though the booklet does offer the information that should have been on the screen.

David Hansell

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