Thursday 18 September 2014

Meslanges pour las Chapelle d'un Prince

Etienne Moulinie Meslanges pour la chapelle d'un prince - Ensemble Correspondance
Etienne Moulinie Meslanges pour la Chapelle d'un Prince; Ensemble Correspondances, Sebastien Dauce; Harmonia Mundi
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Sep 04 2014
Star rating: 5.0

17th century music written for Louix XIII's brother in this engaging new recording

The 17th century French composer Etienne Moulinie was a name new to be. Best known, perhaps, for his secular music this new disc from Sebastien Dauce and Ensemble Correspondances on Harmonia Mundi showcases Moulinie's sacred music. The disc's title comes from Moulinie's 1658 publication which supplies most of the music on the disc. The publication, designed to showcase Moulinie's sacred music, contained works that Moulinie had written during his career as the Chef du Musique to Monsieur, the brother of King Louis XIII of France.

Moulinie worked for Gaston d'Orleans, Monsieur, for 30 years and the music on this disc reflects the establishment at Gaston's court. From 1627, when Moulinie first worked for Gaston, the musical establishment surrounding the prince included two choirboys and eight adult singers (two on each part for dessus, hautes-contres, haute-tailles, basse-tailles, basses) plus a gambist and a lutenist. From 1650 until Gaston's death the establishment was reduced with just one singer per part and a woman on the top line. Of course, on grand occasions these forces were expanded. Moulinie provided music for both entertainments and for devotions, as well as teaching Gaston's daughter La Grande Mademoiselle. Gaston's life was not without incident and he had a tendency to get involved in politics and rebellion, but Moulinie stayed with him including when Gaston was retired permanently in 1652 on the orders of Louis XIV.

The music on the disc consists of a wide variety of items, all sacred in nature. Moulinie's publication was unusual in that he printed only sacred music, setting Latin texts apart from a few to devotional French texts. The publication was dedicated to Gaston's wife, Madame, and the longest work in the disc is the Litanies de la Vierge 'mises en musique a cinq parties pour Madame'. Apart from this piece, many of the motets are quite short, but highly varied. They are also rather varied as to text, with Moulinie seeming to opt for variety rather than coherence, in the sense of music written for a particularly church season.

In style, he synthesises music from various styles into one delightful whole. Whilst there are references to the style of the large-scale motets written for the Royal Chapel, there is also a susceptibility to language which seems to come from Moulinie's secular music (his airs de cour) in addition there is a positively madrigalian feel to some passages. The motets are for two, three, four or five voices which also gives a nice variation in textures.

Sebastian Dauce includes a few items by Moulinie's contemporaries, Antoine Boesset, Francois de Chancy and Louis Constantin. Boesset and de Chancy were both musicians from the King's chamber alongside whom Moulinie worked, whilst Constantin was a violinist brought in for the larger scale pieces.

On this disc the twelve singers of Ensemble Correspondances are joined by an instrumental ensemble of flute and strings, with lute, theorbo and keyboard (10 players in all). They make a nicely rich sound and perform with a perfect sense of style, but you feel that they also have an underlying enthusiasm for the music which comes over in performance. These are infectiously delightful performances, which capitalise on the contrasts in Moulinie's writing with solos and tuttis, sober passages and madrigalian ones. They also give a real sense of the intimacy of the forces used.

This is immensely personable music, you can see why Gaston was happy to have Moulinie around for 30 year. But these are also immensely personable performances and a real delight.

Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - O bone Jesu [1.52]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Lauda Sion salvatorem [1.43]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Caro mea vere est cibus [2.21]
Antoine Boesset (1586 - 1643) - Jesu nostra redemptio [3.27]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Cantate Domino [3.05]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - O bone Jesu [1.50]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Magi videntes stellam [1.49]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - O dulce nomen [2.56]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Ecce video [1.50]
Francois de Chancy (c1600 - 1656) - Allemande [1.55]
Antoine Boesset (1586 - 1643) - Popule meus quid fecit tibi & Pie Jesus [9.48]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Ne reminiscaris Domine [3.39]
Francois de Chancy (c1600 - 1656) -Allemande [2.06]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Ego flos campi [2.30]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Dum esset rex [1.19]
Louis Constantin (1585 - 1657) - La Pacifique [2.37]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Veni sponsa mea [5.40]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - O salutaris hostia [1.37]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Litanies de la Vierge [10.50]
Etienne Moulinie (1599 - 1676) - Flores apparuerun [3.03]
Ensemble Correspondances
Sebastien Dacue (director)
Recorded February 2014, Lyon, Temple Lanterne
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC902194 1CD [1:05.53]

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