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Delalande: Te Deum / Christie, Les Arts Florissants

Delalande / Christie / Arts Florissants
Release Date: 07/10/2001 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi Musique D'abord Catalog #: 1951351   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Michel Richard Delalande
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Few if any roads seem as far in distance and as beautiful in destination as that along which the interpretation and performance of French baroque music has travelled since the first recording of Delalande's Te Deum in 1958. It is not so much a question of rhythmic understanding—I have the aforementioned recording, conducted by Anthony Hopkins on L'Oiseau-Lyre, in front of me as I write—but of ornament, of emphasis and of tempo. Whereas the earlier struggles with a weighty-sounding choir, lacking in agility and with a ponderous, beefy basso continuo, the new one generates energy from the bottom upwards, so-to-speak. William Christie first tried out his performance of the Te Deum during the Journées Baroques at Versailles last autumn. Read more We might on that occasion have quibbled over details but the CD version is altogether more sharply focused, a fact which is more to do with the prevailing conditions of live performance as against studio disci pline than any fundamental change in approach on Christie's part.

I enjoyed these performances by and large though felt on occasion, just as! did in his recording of Charpentier's Mass Asumpla est Maria (9/89) that some of the grandeur and nobility inherent in the music is not conveyed with sufficient conviction. Maybe it is partly an acoustical problem since the resonant introductory "Simphonie" sounded a little diffuse, weakening the effect of Christie's crisp articulation. What I enjoyed a great deal, however, is the fresh, airy sound that the upper voices of the choir of Les Arts Florissants are currently achieving; the "Te ergo, quaesumus" of the Te Deum is just one such instance of it. There are also some outstanding solo contributions, most arresting among them that of the soprano Sandrine Piau who left a deep impression on me after her characterful performance in Rossi's Orfeo under Christie's direction in London last November (a recording of which has just been released by Harmonia Mundi—to be reviewed later). The soprano Véronique Gens is also outstanding but I detected some strain in the singing of the high tenor Jean-Paul Fouchécourt.

The two remaining grands motels are both fine examples of Delalande's genius in this medium. The Confltebor tibi Domine was recently included in a Delalande programme directed by Edward Higginbottom on Erato/Warner Classics, while the beautiful Super flumina receives, I believe, its first commercial recording. In each case I noticed uncomfortable moments both in the singing and playing, performances which in other words do justice to the spirit of the music but which are not entirely happy in detail. To sum up, a disc which in spite of reservations can be warmly commended for its many affecting gestures, and wholeheartedly for its repertory. The recording is spacious and pleasantly resonant.

-- Gramophone [7/1991]
reviewing the original release of this title
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Works on This Recording

1. Te Deum by Michel Richard Delalande
Conductor:  William Christie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1684; France 
2. Super flumina Babylonis, grand motet, S. 13 by Michel Richard Delalande
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1687 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Length: 16 Minutes 0 Secs. 
3. Confitebor tibi, Domine, grand motet, S. 56 by Michel Richard Delalande
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Arts Florissants
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1699 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Length: 24 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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