Le Guerre des Te Deum

Esprit-Joseph-Antoine Blanchard & Francois Colin de Blamont
Le Guerre des Te Deum
Chœur Marguerite Louise, Ensemble Stradivaria, Daniel Cuiller
Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS007. 66’38

This recording reflects an extraordinary incident that took place in Paris on 12 May 1745. Following the victory of Louis XV at the Battle of Fontenoy, part of the War of the Austrian Succession the day before, a ceremonial Te Deum was to be sung at the Queen’s Mass in the Royal Chapel in Versailles. The composer Esprit-Joseph-Antoine Blanchard, assistant Master of the Royal Chapel, had one that had been performed the year before. He rededicated it as the Cantique d’action de grâces pour les conquêtes de Louis XV and issued the scores to the musicians. Just as the Queen took her place in the Chapel, the composer Francois Colin came rushing in and tried to replace the scores with a Te Deum of his own. He was the Superintendant de la Musique de la Chambre and Maître de la Chapelle Royale and according to tradition, the Te Deum should have been his responsibility. Too late to stop the performance of Blanchard’s version, Blamont enlisted help from the battlefield where the Duc de Richelieu, who wrote on behalf of the King, expressing his strong disapproval. Shortly afterwards, Blamont’s Te Deum was performed at another Mass, officially in a ‘King’s Mass, although the Louis XV was still on the battlefield. Blanchard’s Te Deum was officially withdrawn from Court celebrations.  Continue reading

Blanchard: Magnificat à la Chapelle Royale

Blanchard: Magnificat à la Chapelle Royale
Trois motets à grand chœur
Chœur de chambre Les Eléments, Orchestra Les Passions, Jean-Marc Andrieu
Ligia: Lidi 020231-16, 77’00

Antoine Blanchard: Magnificat (1741), De Profundis (1740), In exitu Israel (1749)

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Antoine Blanchard (1696-1770) is a rather shadowy figure in French musical history. There is far more information in Bernadette Lespinard’s detailed CD notes than can be found in other source that I could find on the internet in English. He is sometimes given the additional first names of Esprit-Joseph, although he never used them himself. He was a choirboy in the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence, and became a cleric from about 18. Transgression of the rules led to his departure from this role after only one year. He then moved to Marseilles as director of music at Saint-Victor, although he spent two years away in Toulon, detained there by the plague. Whilst building up his contacts in Paris, he worked in the choir school at Amiens Cathedral, eventually getting a Royal appointment in the Versailles Musique de la Chapelle in 1738.

The three large-scale motets à grand chœur recorded here (two are world première recordings) represent the music of the Court Chapel of Louis XV in the 1740s. Shorn of some of the daintiness and delicacy of the high baroque, Continue reading