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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    SHOWING PACES

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Already by the time of the Magnificat, which may date from the early 1670s, Charpentier had begun ousting Lully for music to Moliere's plays. The Magnificat is set to a strong dance rhythm that persists throughout. It is essentially a slow waltz, performed here with downbeat emphasis that eventually becomes monotonous. Perhaps such accents are appropriate when putting down the mighty from their seat [listen - track 3, 5:23-6:50].

Elsewhere the Virgin's hymn needs more subtlety. That said, the oratorio performances can only give pleasure. Les arts florissants deploys some ten singers, equally happy as soloists or among the faithful. So Almachus is redeemed to become a choral bass and join Cecilia in celebrating her own triumph. The dozen instrumentalists are busy with recorder, flute, viols, theorbo, harpsichord and organ. Combinations differ for the oratorios and Magnificat. Sometimes William Christie is at a keyboard; otherwise his hands are free. Either way he has brought out the dramatic strengths of the oratorios and maximised the message of the Magnificat.

 

Copyright © 3 September 2000 Robert Anderson, London, UK

 

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