Philippe Herreweghe / La Chapelle Royale

Dumont: Motets pour la chapelle du roy

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DuMont: Motets pour la Chapelle du Roy was one of the very first discs Philippe Herreweghe did with La Chapelle Royale, in 1981; at that time, hardly anyone had ever heard of Henry du Mont, and his sacred music had never before been recorded with anything resembling period instruments or an appropriate style of singing. So upon first release, this selection of du Mont's Grand Motets was a revelation in a number of respects; few listeners were aware of the French Baroque motet, or even familiar with a great deal of seventeenth century French music, for that matter. As this Musique d'abord reissue makes clear, this particular volume doesn't wear as well as some other early Herreweghe recordings, mainly owing to less than stellar singing from a couple of the front line vocalists, a rather spartan approach to continuo realization and a number of underpowered performances that makes for a boring, rather than revelatory, time. However, this wasn't due to any lack of enthusiasm on anyone's part; it was just that Herreweghe's approach to realizing such music was still evolving in 1981 and he made it a point to try to err on the side of caution, decidedly the opposite modus operandi of most early music practitioners of that era. Moreover, the classical recording industry hasn't exactly gone crazy over du Mont in the interim, so alternatives are few. As a way to understand du Mont's sacred music and get to know it, Harmonia Mundi's Dumont: Motets pour la Chapelle du Roy is still serviceable; however, it might not knock your socks off the way some of Herreweghe's recordings of Bach cantatas, or of other French sacred repertoire, are certainly capable of doing.

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