Claude LE JEUNE (1528/1530-1600)
Dix Pseaumes de David (1564)
Psalm 96: Chantez à Dieu chanson nouvelle [5:29]
Psalm 102: Seigneur, enten ma requeste [15:36]
Psalm 135: Chantez de Dieu le renom [7:44]
Psalm 88: O Dieu Eternel, mon Sauveur [9:30]
Psalm 57: Ayes pitié de moy [6:46]
Psalm 98: Chantez à Dieu nouveau cantique [3:28]
Psalm 149: Chantez à Dieu chanson nouvelle [3:59]
Psalm 95: Sus, esgayons-nous au Seigneur [7:11]
Psalm 97: L'Eternel est regnant [5:30]
Psalm 81: Chantez gayement à Dieu [10:08]
Ludus Modalis (Nathalie Marec, Annie Dufresne (sopranos); Jean-Christophe Clair (alto); Bruno Boterf, Vincent Bouchot (tenors); François Fauché, Jean-Michel Durang (basses); Yannick Varlet (organ, harpsichord))/Bruno Boterf (director)
rec. Chambray church, Normandy, France, August, October 2010. DDD
RAMEE RAM 1005 [75:28]
This release by Belgian early music specialist label Ramée of the Dix Pseaumes de David by Franco-Flemish composer Claude Le Jeune - sometimes written Lejeune - is an outstanding disc on so many levels, and a world premiere recording to boot.
From a purely physical point of view, to begin with, both the packaging and technical quality are superb. Printed on quality paper, the booklet has a detailed track-listing, nine sides of intelligently written notes, including six on Le Jeune's Ten Psalms, a German and French translation, a few refreshingly low-key black and white photographs, and the full psalm texts in their original sixteenth century French. Though the standard jewel case has been replaced by a cardboard foldout, the back cover of the booklet is firmly glued onto the middle section, giving a product that feels as good as it sounds. And it really does sound good too - the quality of the church recording is immaculate: no hint of any background noise, and a resonance that sounds as authentic as the performances.
Given Claude Le Jeune's important place in music history - his influence extending right into the twentieth century as far as Messiaen - not to mention his indisputable genius, it is quite astonishing that still so little of his music has been recorded, particularly given the fact that a huge body of works has survived, including 350-odd psalms and about 300 secular vocal items.
Published in 1564, the motet-style Ten Psalms are one of Le Jeune's earliest volumes, written when he was still only in his mid thirties - he continued composing right up to his death. These innovative Calvinist/Huguenot settings of the psalms were written for four vocal parts in a rich, serious, sonorous style moving between polyphony and homophony. They are beautifully crafted, texturally full-bodied and deeply expressive from beginning to end.
The seven voices of Ludus Modalis are magically blended and balanced, and their French pronunciation is delightfully authentic and very clean of articulation. Their varied choice of tempi and rhythms may well be the result of divine instruction. Every now and then some thoughtful instrumental accompaniment delicately supplies a little extra texture. The group is expertly directed, with the lightest possible hand, by Bruno Boterf, who has enormous experience in this repertoire.
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Beautifully crafted, texturally full-bodied and deeply expressive from beginning to end.