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<<  -- 2 --  Wilfrid Mellers    SECOND SIGHT


People living in a self-professed Heroic Age thought that human actions were worth imitating, and sublimating, precisely because human beings were potentially capable of discovering a rational Order within passions that, but for civilisation's discipline, might be contrarious or even chaotic.

Lully - Grands Motets Vol 1. Copyright (c) 1999 HNH International Ltd.

The most direct testament to this public function was not, however, in Lully's operas and ballets but in his music for a Church that was also the State : as we may vicariously experience through this CD. Lully's most ambitious piece of church music has virtually nothing to do with the Christian deity, unless one accepts that Louis XIV in effect was God, albeit momently.


After it was first performed in 1677 Lully's Te Deum became fabulously famous because, at the apex of Louis's reign and of Lully's celebrity, it paid homage to the Sun King by way of large forces expertly deployed: a superbly drilled orchestra of strings dominated by trumpets and drums, and a team of solo voices capping a biggish chorus majestically used in mostly homophonic antiphony. The music lilted and swaggered in electrical dance rhythms, as noble people pranced across the earth they had conquered, intermittently singing with lyrical panache [listen - track 1, 5:42-6:42]. The sectional symmetries of the work are disposed as lucidly as are the parcs and parterres that Le Nôtre designed for Versailles; and although more heart-felt passages for solo voices admit the solaces and secrecies of sex, if not exactly of passionate love, we are left in no doubt that the Whole is more important than the parts.

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Copyright © 30 September 2000 Wilfrid Mellers, York, UK







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