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Magnificat, 'Motet a grand choeur par M' [24'07]
Claude BALBASTRE (1727-1799)

Joseph revenant un jour [5'45]
Ou s'en vont ces gais berger? [5'39]
Jean-Francois DANDRIEU (1682-1738)

Or nous dites Marie [5'22]
Louis-Claude DAQUIN (1694-1772)

Noël sur les Flutes [7'04]
Michel CORRETTE (1709-1795)

Tous les bourgeois de Chastres [3'26]
Tambourins [1'36]
Daniel Meylan (organ)
Agnieszka Kowalczyk, soprano, Jean-Francois Lombard, haute-contre, Bertrand Bochud, tenor, Olivier Bettens, basse, La Camerata Baroque, Arabesque/Daniel Meylan
rec. Temple du Pampigny (Switzerland) 3-4 June 2005, St Jean-de-Losne (France), 28-29 August 2005. DDD
HORTUS 043 [52'59]

Another engaging and enjoyable release from the redoubtable team at Hortus brings us an interesting anonymous French Magnificat from around 1750 together with some better known organ Noels. The Magnificat follows rather in the vein of the famous Messe de minuit of Charpentier written some sixty years earlier, in that all the material is based on much used, and loved, French carol tunes. The composer is unknown, the score being found in the Bibliothèque National de France. Only the vocal parts of the score are complete, the instrumental score often consisting of just upper and lower parts, the middle parts to be played ad lib by the performers. Here the missing elements have been completed by Daniel Bouldjoua. In addition to the usual violins and gambas, the double-bass makes an early appearance in French baroque music, and the scoring is further enriched by two recorders. Each part of the text is allied cleverly to a carol tune, 'Fecit potentiam' for instance to the easily recognisable melody 'Bourgeois de Chastres'. The magnificat is stylishly, dare I suggest slightly rustic-ly, performed by the sixteen-piece Swiss vocal group La Camerata Baroque, together with the Arabesque ensemble. Listen also for the wonderfully clear and unassuming singing of Polish soprano Agnieszka Kowalczyk in the 'Suscepit Israel', though indeed all the soloists are excellent.

The coupling features the charming organ playing of Daniel Meylan, who plays Noels by Daquin, Dandrieu, Corrette and Balbastre on the 1768 Boillot organ at St Jean-de-Losne. Meylan's playing is lithe and sophisticated, with beautiful ornamentation. Particularly appealing is the pathos of the Daquin 'Noël sur les flutes'. And what flutes! This organ is surely another little known treasure of 18th century French organ building. Here it is featured in repertoire which to my ear suits it far better than the earlier, more usually played - and undoubtedly more important - literature of Couperin and especially de Grigny.

Despite the playing time being too short - 52 minutes is not enough! - this is very recommendable.

Chris Bragg



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