Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus

Henry Desmarest: Grands Motets

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

Hervé Niquet, the conductor who has recorded so many of the grand motets of the Grand Siècle -- those choral-orchestral works by Lully, Rameau, Campra, and Charpentier that stand with the cantatas of Bach and the anthems of Handel as the great sacred works of the Baroque -- turns here to three works by Henry Desmarets that were, in their time, quite scandalous. They were not, of course, scandalous in the sense that they were musically outlandish -- indeed, they are quite as beautiful as the best works in the genre -- but because, inadvertently, they made a fool of Louis XIV. Rejected as a composer by the Sun King, Desmarets was hired by the composer who did get the job to write these motets to pass off as his own. They were premiered successfully at Versailles, but when his employer refused to pay him, Desmarets revealed the scheme to the King. Louis was not amused: he fired the pretender but instead of replacing him with Desmarets, he replaced him with Lalande, a composer whose retiring nature made him unlikely to embarrass his sovereign. Be that as it may, Desmarets' three incognito motets recorded here -- De profundis, Veni creator, and Cum invocation -- are given performances as splendid as any Niquet has ever recorded. The playing and singing of Le Concert Spirituel is deep, detailed, and devotional and Niquet leads performances that ideally capture the rarified religious atmosphere of the French court at the height of its worldly magnificence. Anyone who already knows and loves the motets of Lully, Rameau, Campra, and Charpentier will want to know and love this disc and anyone unfamiliar with the genre but who already knows and loves the cantatas of Bach or the anthems of Handel will come to know and love this disc. Glossa's sound is opulent and sumptuous.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
De Profundis (Psaume 129), motet
1 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 03:44 Amazon
2 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:45 Amazon
3 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:53 Amazon
4 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:04 Amazon
5 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:52 Amazon
6 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:05 Amazon
7 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:55 Amazon
8 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:04 Amazon
9 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 03:15 Amazon
10 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:55 Amazon
Veni Creator (hymne pour la fête de la Pentecôte), motet
11 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:48 Amazon
12 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:49 Amazon
13 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 00:57 Amazon
14 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:55 Amazon
15 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 03:23 Amazon
16 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:15 Amazon
17 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:14 Amazon
Cum Invocarem (Psaume 4), motet
18 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:02 Amazon
19 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:50 Amazon
20 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:26 Amazon
21 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 03:27 Amazon
22 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:00 Amazon
23 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:55 Amazon
24 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:18 Amazon
25 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 02:27 Amazon
26 Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus 01:47 Amazon
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