Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Bouzignac - Te Deum etc - Les Arts Florissants/Christie

Rating: 5/5

An excellent reissue

This is a very welcome reissue of the original recording of 1993. The rather wonderfully named Bouzignac is a shadowy figure of whose life little is known, but who was active in the first half of the 17th Century. His music deserves to be far better known on this evidence - the selection here is thrilling, moving and very beautiful by turns and startlingly original in many places.

There are two motet forms here: ordinary ritornello motets and some dialogue motets, which are very striking indeed. Ecce homo, for example, is an amazing dialogue beween Pilate, beautifully sung by the excellent Paul Agnew, and the crowd whose angry and agitated cries of "Crucifige, crucifige eum!" are truly chilling. Set against this is a limpidly lovely setting of In pace, in idipsum for four voices and viols which is simply spellbinding, and the brief motet O mors, ero mors tua whose opening dissonances and suspensions sound 20th Century rather than 17th. The closing Te Deum is just fabulous. There is endless variety and it's a fascinating, hugely enjoyable and very rewarding programme.

The performance is terrific. William Christie and his ensemble respond to the texts with real empathy, and the standard of musicianship and interpretation is excellent. They bring this excellent music wonderfully to life, and I simply can't fault them in any way.

The recorded sound is excellent and the disc comes with full, interesting notes and texts (although no translations). It's a really cracking disc and (as I write, at least) a monumental bargain. Very highly recommended.

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