Le Concert Spirituel Orchestra & Chorus / Hervé Niquet

Le Concert Spirituel: Les 25 Ans!!!

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Le Concert Spirituel, named for the concert series (not exclusively spiritual) that was held on the second floor of the Tuileries in the 18th century until all hell broke loose, has specialized in French Baroque music. The group was founded in 1987 by leader Hervé Niquet, who was playing in William Christie's pioneering group Les Arts Florissants and heard a conductor, presumably not Christie, disparage the French repertory. Resolved to do better, he founded a group of his own. That nugget comes from the notes to this release, which were penned by Niquet himself and which provide a real sense of the enthusiasm that has attended Le Concert Spirituel since its beginnings. The album is a collection marking the group's 25th anniversary, and it could serve as an admirable introduction to the ensemble's work, and indeed to the French Baroque in general as well as related music in other countries and times. Consider the five divisions of the program, which bespeak an effort to come to terms with the music in its own context: "Musique religieuse," "Démesure" (Excess), Jardin Secret (Secret Garden), Opéras, and "Mes petits bijoux préférés," which means My Favorite Little Jewels and consists of Niquet's own picks. The "Démesure" group is not only a classification French listeners of the time would have recognized, and perhaps smiled at, but also indicates a chief value of this collection: like all the best anthologies, it presents the group as a living, evolving being and brings the listener something new. Niquet has researched large, "excessive" works such as the 60-voice Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno of Alessandro Striggio (excerpted on CD 1, tracks 13 and 14), and those on that section of the program represent the latest in his series of musical adventures, delightfully unaffected by minimalist trends in Baroque performance. All the music was recorded between 1999 and 2011 for the Glossa label, and it has a sonic unity despite the large generic variety on display. Recommended for all levels of familiarity with the French Baroque.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Missa pro defunctis
1 2:56
2 3:39
Missa Assumpta est Maria
3 8:14
4 2:01
Messe de Monsieur de Mauroy
5 5:29
6 1:24
Messe à huit voix
7 4:27
Te Deum à huit voix
8 1:00
9 1:24
10 1:22
Music for the Royal Fireworks
11 2:13
12 5:10
Missa sopra Ecco sì beato giorno
13 5:45
14 5:02
King Arthur
15 0:30
16 1:59
17 5:53
18 0:38
19 6:41
Pièces de clavecin dédiées à la reine
20 4:20
La Vie du poète
21 4:28
22 2:27

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Daphnis & Chloé
1 1:38
2 2:21
3 0:42
4 2:44
5 1:13
6 1:13
Dido & Aeneas
7 3:14
8 1:08
9 2:15
Callirhoé
10 2:35
11 4:04
12 3:58
13 3:05
Sémélé
14 1:43
15 3:37
16 1:32
17 0:35
18 0:53
19 0:58
20 0:44
21 0:51
22 1:50
Andromaque
23 0:48
24 0:28
25 1:31
26 0:56
27 0:52
28 0:50
29 1:49
30 1:12
31 1:18
Le Carnaval de Venise
32 1:42
33 1:31
34 1:16
35 2:14
36 2:03
37 2:29
38 1:02
39 0:36
40 0:47
41 1:11
42 3:14
Daphnis & Chloé
43 5:17
Sémélé
44 0:53
Callirhoé
45 1:11
blue highlight denotes track pick