Hieronymus Praetorius: Motets in 8-20 Parts

Hieronymus Praetorius: Motets in 8, 10, 12, 16 & 20 Parts
Alamire, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts
David Skinner, Stephen Farr
Resonus: Inventa Records. INV001. 2 CDs: 57’46 + 42’39 

I have waited years for a comprehensive recording of Hieronymus Praetorius and this one ticks all the boxes. I first got to know his organ music many years ago, finding in him a very rare example of a North German organ composer from before the generation of Sweelinck students that dominated Hamburg and North German musical life in the 17th century (of which his sons were a key part). That progression eventually led to the peak of the North German Baroque, Dieterich Buxtehude. Although there were indications of the post-Sweelinck style, his musical language was distinct, if occasionally rather impenetrable, and clearly represented an important late Renaissance style of organ composition and performance. The joy of this double CD set is that several organ pieces are included, along with some of the magnificent multi-part motets, with up to 20 independent voices. 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