CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Briefly Noted: Merry Charpentier Christmas

available at Amazon
Charpentier, Messe de Minuit, Ensemble Correspondances, Sébastien Daucé

(released on October 13, 2023)
Harmonia Mundi HMM902707DI2 | 80'52"
The French early music group Ensemble Correspondances has quickly become a favorite. For that unusual Christmas gift, conductor Sébastien Daucé has put together a most entertaining Noël program on this new release. In splendid performances, it pairs Marc-Antoine Charpentier's more familiar Messe de Minuit, a setting of popular Noël melodies to the Ordinary of the Mass, with two of the same composer's oratorio-like dramatic motets for Christmas.

In his excellent booklet essay, Graham Sadler notes a musical self-borrowing not often commented on, in which Charpentier based the "Gloria" movement of the Midnight Mass on the music that went with a parallel text in his motet In nativitatem Domini canticum, H. 416. Having always been struck by the beauty of this moment in the Mass, so much more reflective and introspective than the general take on the "Gloria" text, I was delighted to learn of this connection with the earlier work, which I did not know at all.

Daucé rounds out a Christmas Eve celebration with a number of charming selections, including two of Charpentier's instrumental settings of Noëls used in the Mass. The setting of "Laissez paître vos bêtes" for recorder consort is an absolute delight, as is a motet for the elevation of the host, excerpted from a longer work by Charpentier's contemporary, Sébastien de Brossard, a real find for music directors looking for something unusual to program next month. The disc ends with one of Charpentier's versions of the Te Deum, H. 147, likely used during the Christmas season at the Jesuit church of St. Louis in Paris, where Charpentier was maître de musique. Sung at the end of Matins, it would have directly preceded Midnight Mass.

Follow me on Threads (@ionarts_dc)
for more classical music and opera news

No comments: