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Petits Motets

Cyrille Dubois (treble) with Maitrise de Caen & soloists/Robert Weddle
Assai 207582 [55 min] (PGW)
Amazon UK

This is an important CD to introduce a remarkable boy singer Cyrille Dubois (left) in some very original and innovative music by Sebastien de Brossard (1655-1730), better known for a Dictionary of Music (the first in French) his catalogue donated to Louis XIV's library at Versailles. Cyrille Dubois (14) displays exceptional musical maturity and verve in some very difficult solos and duets. He is supported by tenor Herve Lamy and bass Alain Buet, with continuo and a small choir, all under the direction of Robert Weddle, formerly organist at Coventry Cathedral, who now devotes himself to the musical education of the choirboys at Caen.

We are told that Brossard's Stabat mater of 1702 is 'astonishing'; there is a recording in the catalogue - Audivis Astree E8619 - which I shall certainly hope to investigate. All these little motets date from around the turn of the century and show Italian influence. The solo O Jesu! stretches Cyrille's technique to the limit, but he prevails and does not shirk the long, difficult Amen, which is ad libitum. For the fast, florid passages he takes the bit between his teeth and is obviously hyped up, which become exciting for us too. It is polished singing but shows an endearing vulnerability.

Beati immaculuati, shared with baritone, and Miserere mei, in which they are joined too by the little choir, are sheer delights. Two other motets, O Plenus for baritone and Silentium dormi for tenor, make welcome interludes, but the main interest of this special CD will be the exceptional boy singer, who is also studying organ.

There is a detailed account of the hard life and training of boy singers in the maitrise of the period. The production and documentation are to a high standard and this was clearly a labour of love, with no trouble spared. (The essay and background information is given in French, English & German, but the sung texts are supplied only in Latin and French, but paginated so that you have to choose one or other language to follow the music.)

Peter Grahame Woolf

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