MOTETS POUR NOËL ET LES ANTIPHONS DE L’AVENT
In the heart of Paris, from the mid-1660s onwards, a parallel musical life was gradually established outside the usual framework. If many princes had the means to maintain a music on the model – necessarily reduced – of that of the monarch, the Hôtel de Guise established a more original configuration. It is not a question of illustrating the power of this princely house, but of organizing, around Marie de Lorraine, the presence of an art which is necessary for her.
Marc-Antoine Charpentier evolves in different constraints from those of the court: the team of musicians that constitutes the Hotel de Guise differs over the years, imposing on him sometimes unusual numbers.
The drama of the death of the last male heir of the Guise lineage marks a real turning point in the texts submitted by Marie de Guise to the composer. From then on, the figure of the infant Jesus took on a considerable place in the piety of this family, whether it be in religious services or in the place reserved for the Christmas celebration. This celebration occupied a central place in the religious life of 17th century France, and aroused great popular fervor.
This program gives us the opportunity to hear the whole story of the Nativity, under the pen of a highly inspired Marc-Antoine Charpentier, where the art of composition rubs shoulders with a sensuality and a fervor beyond the norm. These Christmas pastorals, unique in their kind, marked a particular time of the year when all the musicians, Charpentier, their benefactress, the fine scholars who frequented the hotel, and the entire House of Guise, gathered together: a moment of infinite grace, naive and benevolent, in contrast to the gold of the court of Versailles.
It is also in this context that the Pastoral on the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ H.483 was born. The style of the pastoral, a requirement imposed on the composer and rarely used to evoke the Nativity, gives rise to a work that is at odds with the crossroads of secular and sacred, popular and learned, ingenuity and gravity.
Harmonia Mundi release October 21, 2016:
Choc de Classica, ffff Télérama, 5 diapasons, **** The Times
O Radix Jesse
Or nous dites Marie
O Clavis Dvid
Traditional Or nous dites marie
O Rex Gentium
In Nativitatem H.414