Capture d’écran 2023-01-27 à 18.02.58

Litanies de la Vierge • Marc-Antoine Charpentier


Marc-Antoine Charpentier joined the service of Marie de Guise on her return from Italy in the early 1670’s. Marie de Guise herself had lived all her youth in Italy and was particularly attached to the Marian cult, having been born on August 15. In the 17th century, this cult experienced a new development and Marc-Antoine Charpentier dedicated numerous antiphons, a dozen Magnificat, Salve Regina, a Stabat Mater for nuns and no less than nine Litanies of the Virgin. His music has always been able to adapt to the place and context, as well as to the means at his disposal, thus displaying his singularity in all circumstances. Miserere des Jésuites, Litanies de la Vierge H.83, Annunciate superi H.333: all the pieces in this program were composed by Charpentier in the particular context of the Hôtel de Guise, where he worked as a composer surrounded by a group of faithful musicians and singers.

Marie de Guise’s musicians were the chambermaids and valets of the hotel, but each of them possessed an extraordinary musical talent: all the witnesses of the time report that Mlle de Guise’s music was among the best in Paris. Miserere in the lead, these works constitute an unexpected parenthesis in the music of the Grand Siècle. The creative genius, the interiority and the intense fervor of a composer surrounded by his faithful troupe seem all the more familiar to us since Charpentier was both a copyist (the scores that have come down to us are in his own hand) and a performer-he played the part of countertenor. These three motets are linked to solemn feasts and the music is especially varied – with a particular six-voice staff and simphony allowing for much contrast. The litanies – a painful complaint, that of the Virgin at the foot of the cross – certainly constitute an expressive summit of Charpentier’s art.


Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Misere H.193
Antienne H. 526
Annunciate superi H.333
Ouverture H.536
Litanie de la Vierge H.83

Release Harmonia Mundi september 2013

Diapason d’or, ffff Télérama, Choc Classica, Supersonic Pizzicato

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