I sang in Adelaide performances of two Masses by Marc-Antoine Charpentier recently and it was a rare pleasure to sing such exquisite, refined, subtle, intelligent, expressive and well crafted music. When I saw this album on shop shelves recently, I was very excited and I bought it immediately. I wasn't disappointed.
This is a simply beautiful recording - everything is right here.
The voices and instruments of Ex Cathedra present Charpentier's music with great style and colour. The recording gives the impression of space, without being too distant or reverberant. The Messe à quatre chaeurs is, of course, a very richly scored work, but it never sounds too "crowded" or "overblown" here.
Charpentier used the Italian 17th century polychoral techniques to great effect on the music on this CD - Charpentier studied with Carissimi in Rome for a few years. I think Charpentier was one of the greatest composers of sacred music of the entire 17th century. His word painting, wit, harmonies, colour and sense of form are first rate. I wonder if Purcell was influenced by him?
I hope that many people give serious thought to purchasing this excellent recording of some great music. I also hope that Ex Cathedra returns to Charpentier some time in the future. Only a fraction of Charpentier's music has been recorded.