Lully: Dies Iræ, De Profundis, Te Deum

Jean-Baptiste Lully
Dies Iræ, De Profundis, Te Deum
Choeur de Chambre de Namur, Millenium Orchestra, Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón
Outhere Music: Alpha 444. 82’50

The complex rituals of the ceremonial music of the French Court of Louis XIV, with its divided Music re Roi, are perhaps summed up in these three Lully pieces – the grand motets Dies Iræ, De Profundis and Te Drum. Although Lully never held any formal posts within the Chapelle du Roi, court tradition dictated that for royal funerals, although the Mass itself was directed by the Sous-maîtres de la Chapelle, for the Prose and Aspersion of the Coffin, the music (Dies Iræ & De Profundis) was the responsibility of the Superintendant de la Musique de la Chambre – Lully. He took this opportunity to develop the genre of the grand ceremonial motet using the combined forces of the two choirs and a rich orchestration.

In these extravagant works, Lully was clearly intending to outshine the Sous-maîtres, the Te Drum in particular being a dramatic masterpiece. The opening Dies Iræ opens in theatrical style, the intoned plainchant of the ancient hymn penetrating the rich accompaniment. This CD was recorded in the splendid surroundings of the Chapelle Royale in Versailles, although, sadly, they did not use the main organ there, as would surely have been done in Lilly’s time.

With one exception, heard early on, the singing of the six soloists and choir in excellent, as is the playing of the instrumentalists. Leonardo García Alarcón directs with a sense of the scale and dramatic intent of the music.