> Vepres de Lassomption [PW]: Classical Reviews- June 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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1. Intonation "Deus in Adjutorium"
Responsory "Domine in Adjuvandum Anon, Bogota 1701
2. Antiphon "Assumpta est Maria"
Psalm 109 "Dixit Dominus" Juan de Araujo
3. Kyrie I & III M-A Charpentier
(separated by Psalm 112 Laudate pueri in fauxbourdon)
4. Antiphon "In odorem uniguentorum
Psalm 121 "Laetatus sum / Kyrie V Manuel de Sumaya
5. Antiphon "Benedicta Filia"
Psalm 126 "Nisi Dominus M-A Charpentier
6. Psalm 147 "Lauda Jerusalem" Manuel de Sumaya
7. Kyrie / Ave Maris Stella / Offertoire M-A Charpentier
8. Antiphon "Hodie Maria virgo"
Magnificat M-A Charpentier
Compañia Musical de las Americas (prepared by Josep Cabré)
Maîtrise Nationale de Versailles (prepared by Olivier Schneebeli)
La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy
Conducted by Jean-Claude Malgoire
Recordings made in the church of Tavira, Portugal on 31 May - 3 June 1992.
K617 - K617026 [6137"]
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This CD presents an interesting mix of music that resulted from a large project undertaken in the early 1990s with French musicians working with their counterparts in South America to rediscover the lost repertoire of baroque music from Spanish America. The results, in the placing before audiences of composers such as Juan de Araujo and Manuel de Sumaya, bore ripe fruit. Indeed, Sumaya (an almost exact contemporary of J S Bach) is the great rediscovery; a seriously talented composer of church music who held the most of Maestro di Capilla at the cathedral in Mexico City at the zenith of its musical importance. The idea of the mixing of Spanish American with French music has no basis in historical fact other than that ambassadors from Mexico would present their credentials at Versailles accompanied by their musicians. Still, the idea is a pleasing one and the end result is surprisingly successful, not least because all of the works performed are of a certain quality.

The choirs performing this disc are also of interest. The Maîtrise Nationale de Versailles is an on-going project to spearhead a revival of choir-schools in France and it maintains something along the lines of an English collegiate choir school, maintaining 26 boys who study general subjects in the morning, music in the afternoon, and perform weekly in the Royal Chapel at Versailles. The Compañia Musical de las Americas is even newer, being formed of Mexican singers specifically for this recording project, with a view to assisting in the preservation of the vast riches of the Spanish American baroque repertoire. The sound of both choirs is less refined than one would expect of longer established professional groups, but is in no way as obtrusively unpleasant as some other choirs in this same K617 Chemins de Baroque series. The disc is also aided hugely by the presence of both the conductor Jean-Claude Malgoire and the players of La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy. Malgoire keeps the proceedings moving with style and elegance and the importance of instrumental parts in some of the Charpentier certainly needs the experienced players employed. The quality of the string playing is evident in the Psalm Laetatus sum by de Sumaya (sample 1) and throughout remains crisp and well tuned.

The finest work on the disc is the double choir Magnificat by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Having spent most of his career in the service of the Jesuits, Charpentier understood the concept of sumptuousness that lay at the heart of the counter-reformation and this Magnificat is filled with theatrical effects and wonderfully dense writing with taut structural features apparent throughout. (sample 2) Charpentiers activity as a composer of instrumental music is not widely appreciated as he wrote very few free-standing instrumental works. However, this recording makes use of instrumental interludes drawn from his "Mass for several instruments instead of organs." The offertory that precedes the Magnificat is a fine example, somewhat reminiscent of the ensemble canzonas of Gabrieli, and the cornetto and violin dialogues are brought across well. Again the impression is one of sumptuous richness. (sample 3) This is a very enjoyable and well put together disc with good notes in a well presented booklet. a nice overall product.

Peter Wells


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