« Daucé et son ensemble de 19 interprètes (10 instrumentistes et 9 chanteurs) offrent un son à la fois somptueux et sensuel. »

« Daucé et son ensemble de 19 interprètes (10 instrumentistes et 9 chanteurs) offrent un son à la fois somptueux et sensuel. »

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French Baroque music has never achieved the general familiarity of its German and Italian cousins, but that’s not for any lack of trying on the part of conductor Sébastien Daucé and his Ensemble Correspondances. What you get here is a Pastorale de Noël – a fairly short but grand Christmas narrative – plus one set of « Antiennes de O, » or O Anthems, so called because each one begins with the word « O. » The second half of the Pastorale was revised twice, and the two later versions are included here. The anthems are in a slightly different style: they lack the paired violins and the singsong melodies of the Pastorale, a genre that evolved from secular roots (the stories are about shepherds and shepherdesses, which didn’t take a lot of massaging to be applied to the Christmas story). So, there’s some scholarly subtlety on display here, but the main attraction – the complete Pastorale as performed on the album’s first 22 tracks – is absolutely gorgeous. It consists of alternating solos and tutti, many of them very short and contrasting brilliantly in rhythm, texture, and melodic shape. Sample several of them in a row for the effect: it’s kaleidoscopic and joyous. You might try a track including countertenor Stephen Collardelle (such as « Cette nuit d’une vierge »): his voice is distinctive indeed, but may not be to all tastes. Daucé and his group of 19 performers (ten players and nine singers) achieve a sound that’s at once sumptuous and sensuous. If you know Charpentier only through the popular Messe de minuit – or don’t know him at all – you are in for a major treat.

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