Accordingly, she has produced new performing editions of both works. She conducts them with the vocal and instrumental ensemble which she recently founded in order to give historically aware performance of dramatic music from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras. The result of her scholarship is to bring a more immediate sense of drama, even danger, to the multi-part Dies Irae, and a greater urgency of celebration than is customary to the Te Deum setting. Born in Florence, the cradle of the Italian language, Jean-Baptiste Lulli was the first Italian musician to settle and be fully accepted in France, at the prestigious and illustrious court of Versailles, the centre of refined taste. Lully not only accepted the French style, even more: he created it. His sacred music is splendidly dramatic, the orchestra is full and sonorous, with important roles for the wind and percussion instruments, a feast of colours, driving rhythms and ornaments!

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Texts and translations included. Reviewed as press preview. ALPHA [] Multum in parvo: this is an excellent single-CD representation of the sacred music which won Lully such renown at the French court, even though he had no official position in the chapel royal1. And look at the generous playing time. It opens with great vigour, almost as if it were a setting of Te Deum, even though the male voices are intoning the plainsong words about the Day of wrath and doom impending.

As with Te Deum, below, Niquet offers a slimmer account of the two works common to the two programmes. Lully himself was in the course of directing a vigorous account of this work when he struck himself on the foot with his staff, an accident which led to his death from gangrene. Dumestre pitches his tempi between the two, though with no sense of compromise.

There are several Charpentier settings of this canticle — that on Alpha is of the better-known H, which is also coupled with his celebrated Midnight Mass on another excellent Naxos recording from Kevin Mallon and his Aradia Ensemble 8. The recordings of these double-choir works are fuller than the Naxos equivalents; you may well need to listen at a slightly lower volume than usual.

All in all, while the Naxos recordings come at an attractive price and are still well worth considering, the new Alpha is worth the extra outlay and now becomes my prime recommendation for this glorious music. Hence the rather odd title chosen by the group Les Ordinaires, though their performances of Lully and contemporaries is hardly ordinary in the usual sense Naxos 8.


Lully: Dies Iræ, De Profundis, Te Deum



Lully: Dies Irae, Te Deum


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