Magazine article Gramophone

Mondonville: 'Grands Motets'

Magazine article Gramophone

Mondonville: 'Grands Motets'

Article excerpt

Mondonville

'Grands motets'

Cantate Domino. De profundis.

Magnus Dominus. Nisi Dominus

Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Daniela Skorka sops

Mathias Vidal, Jeffrey Thompson tens

Alain Buet bass Purcell Choir; Orfeo Orchestra / Gyorgy Vashegyi

Glossa (F) (2) GCD923508 (96' * ODD * T/t)

Jean-Joseph Cassanea de Mondonville, a violinist and composer prominent in Parisian musical life in the mid-18th century, was among the last composers to contribute significantly to the genre of the grand motet; indeed, his examples of these large-scale choral psalm-settings, usually created for the Royal Chapel at Versailles but popular in the concert hall as well, were among the most successful of the time. Their ability to please a crowd undoubtedly rested in their sweet melody, their imposing, sometimes Handelian choruses, and (perhaps above all) their enthusiastic pictorialism: in Nisi Dominus, one of the four motets recorded here, we get in quick succession a drowsy bassoon tucking in the Chosen Ones' virtuous slumber, archers' arrows whizzing through choir and orchestra and the noisy knocking of the Lord's enemies at the city gate. It is surface stuff compared to the noble motets of Lully and Lalande, or Rameau's beautiful In convertendo, but these pieces are well-written enough--De profundis establishes a satisfying trajectory from penitential to optimistic to clear-eyed glance towards the grave--and are pretty much impossible to dislike. …

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