Grands Motets (vol. II) by Henry Desmarest

With Glossa
Distribution Harmonia Mundi

Release September 2005

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Grands Motets, vol. II (un scandale à la musique du Roi)

Score from the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles

De Profundis (psaume 129)
Veni Creator (hymne pour la fête de la Pentecôte)
Cum Invocarem (psaume 4)

Hanna Bayodi, dessus
Stéphanie Révidat, dessus
François-Nicolas Geslot, haute-contre
Sébastien Droy, taille
Benoît Arnould, basse-taille
Alice Piérot, premier violon

Le Concert Spirituel, choir and orchestra
Hervé Niquet, conductor

Recorded at IRCAM, Paris in December 2004
Engineered and edited by Manuel Mohino and produced by Dominique Daigremont & Hervé Niquet

Over the years, Hervé Niquet has become one of the undisputed masters of the French grand motet. Where others built their career on Bach’s cantatas, he chose to explore this noble and refined genre in great detail: Lully, Colasse, Charpentier, Campra, Lalande, Lorenzani, Boismortier, Rameau and, of course, Desmarest – all the composers who brought glory to the French court in the past. 

Here we have Hervé Niquet with three unpublished grand motets by the still-young Henry Desmarest (he was born in 1661), only a few years after he stopped working as a page at the Royal Chapel. A favourite of the King, the Dauphin and the entire court, he was presented as the worthiest successor to Lully. However, Desmarest was one of the first cases in history of a ‘ghost writer’; between 1683 and 1693, he composed a significant number of works which were then signed by Nicolas Goupillet, one of Louis XIV’s vicechapelmasters at Versailles, among them the three motets included on this CD.

These three grand motets are very fresh musical moments, where Desmarest highlighted his personal carte du tendre at leisure, as well as his taste for the learned and bracing counterpoint with its five subtly arranged parts. He played with the new vocal and instrumental possibilities created for the chapel built in 1682, with its colourful masses which contrast, sparkle and exalt the sound. These three works magnificently display the music in the new Versailles, almost as if they were veritable snapshots: elegant, refined, unfurling in space with gravity and majesty.