Sunday, 11 October 2015

Lully - Petits Motets - Les Arts Florissant/Rousset

Rating: 4/5

Decent music and performances but rather unexciting

This is a disc of Lully's "Petits motets," a group of small scale settings for three voices and continuo. Presented here are the eleven motets which have been firmly established as being by Lully, excluding a number which were probably wrongly ascribed to him.

The music is enjoyable although to me not truly great. There is a fluency and deftness in Lully's handling of his small forces and the effect is pleasing, so individually these motets are quite rewarding. They vary in scale from the nine-minute Omnes gentes to the sub-two-minute Dominum salve regum - but I have to say that as a programme it does begin to get a bit samey rather quickly. This may be a personal thing, because I do find that, with a few noble exceptions, I often find Lully's music rather stodgy. This, I'm afraid, is not one of the noble exceptions.

Les Arts Florissants under William Christie are an excellent ensemble and these days have a world-wide reputation. This recording dates from 1987 and although the performances are good (of course they are from Christie), to me they lack some of the bounce and inner glow which marks their more recent work.

A qualified recommendation, then. The music and performances are both good if not great and they are well recorded. If you want a recording of these rather out-of-the-way works this will serve you well, but for a disc of Lully which is an unalloyed pleasure I'd recommend Jordi Savall's L'Orchestre du Roi Soleil.  It's different repertoire but for me a much more enjoyable experience.

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