Lully: Complete Grand Motets / Niquet, Le Concert Spirituel

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R E V I E W S:

Volume 1
The court of Louis XIV was a lively and musically thriving place, and Jean-Baptiste Lully, who actually was Italian (Giovanni Battista Lulli) but became a naturalized French citizen, was right in the middle of it. As director of one of the king's orchestras and as Superintendent of the King's Music, Composer of the King's Chamber, and Master of Music of the Royal Family, Lully's job included providing music for various entertainments, mostly ballets and other orchestral and stage works. Sacred choral music came later in Lully's career, and this recording offers three of his most important masterpieces in this genre. The artful use of homophonic and polyphonic sections, double chorus, soloists, and orchestral color combine to give each of these substantial works the dramatic charge and forward-moving energy of a theatrical piece. Le Concert Spirituel, named and fashioned after an 18th-century concert organization that specialized in performance of French "Grands Motets", is an outstanding modern advocate for Lully's music, with fine soloists, an excellent chorus that knows the true meaning of "ensemble", and instrumentalists (and conductor) who understand the importance of rhythm in realizing this music's full effect. I look forward to Volume 2. [11/25/1999]

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com

Volume 3
The Grands Motets on this disc (Exaudiat, Notus in Judaea Deus and Benedictus) are scored for five soloists, five-part choir and orchestra. Although averaging only a quarter of an hour in length, they are nevertheless broad in conception. Le Concert Spirituel certainly does not tiptoe around these works but rather throw themselves into their performances with élan.

The three Grands Motets are interspersed with Lully's settings of O dulcissime Domine and Laudate pueri Dominum. The two women's voices in O dulcissime Domine interweave magically over a continuo accompaniment. The highlight, however, is the first motet, Exaudiat te Dominus. The opening is lively and joyous, contrasting with the sad, heart-felt setting of Domine salvum fac. Le Concert Spirituel bring out the contrasts in the Dormierunt section of Notus in Judaea Deus well, and respond to the grandiose passages in the Benedictus. It is only in this latter piece that the generally crisp and rhythmic articulation flags.

The curious should not hesitate. The recording is in general good, although the harpsichord sounds dull. Full texts and translations are included.

-- Colin Clarke, MusicWeb International


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 8503229


  • UPC: 747313322930


  • Label: Naxos


  • Composer: Jean-Baptiste Lully


  • Conductor: Hervé Niquet


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Le Concert Spirituel