The Requiem mass of Toulouse composer Jean Gilles, composed in the first years of the 18th century, gained fame after the composer's death and was eventually performed at the funeral of the great Rameau himself. This was partly because the work's intended recipients balked at the cost of performing it, with the result that it was first performed at Gilles' own funeral; its reception history involves a kind of Mozartian pathos. Gilles, of course, had no plans to die; he apparently passed away suddenly in 1705. The mass has received various performances since it was first rediscovered in the 1950s, including one on historical instruments led by Philippe Herreweghe and featuring Véronique Gens, but this small French release is choice. The Choeur de Chamber Les Eléments and especially the soloist group get the Brahmsian warmth of the work, which is essentially composed in the style of Marc-Antoine Charpentier but is more melodic and consoling; much of it remains in its tonic major key. The burnished sound of the historical-instrument Orchestre Les Passions, a small group with five violinists and a very light organ-and-theorbo continuo, complements the choir perfectly and features the rarely played and extraordinarily difficult serpent, a tuba ancestor with a uniquely warm sound. The program is completed with a work even less familiar than the Requiem: the seven-section motet Cantate Jordanis incolae, a festive work with exuberant solo writing. The fine audiophile-quality sound was recorded in Toulouse, but the packaging, in French only (the Latin texts of the music are translated into French), does not say where. A very nice find for anyone who likes Baroque choral music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Motet Cantate Jordanis incolœ|