About this Recording
8.553648 - LORENZANI: Motets

Paolo Lorenzani (1640-1713): Sacred Vocal Music

Paolo Lorenzani was born in Rome and as a boy was a chorister in the Cappella Giulia. He began his professional career by composing four oratorios for the Arciconfraternità del Santissimo Crocefisso di S Marcello and was later appointed maestro di coppella at the famous Chiesa del Gesu and the Collegio Romano. In 1678 he left Rome to take up a similar position at the cathedral in Messina, where he attracted the attention of the Duc de Vivonne, marshal of France, who was there to support the Sicilians in their struggle against Spanish domination. Failing in his task, Vivonne withdrew his troops and returned to France, taking the musician with him. Lorenzani was presented to Louis XIV and very quickly won the favour of the King, who helped him to the position surintendant of the Queen's Music to Queen Marie-Therese. Here he was among the greatest musicians of the time: Boesset, whom he replaced, with the Queen, but also Du Mont (sous-maitre of the Chapel Royal, Nivers, who shared the position in the Queen's chapel with him in alternation) Lully, Robert, Charpentier, Desmaret and others.

Lorenzani spent sixteen years in France, actively participating in the musical life of the court. From 1679 the King gave him the task of recruiting castrati from Italy for his chapel. Returning to France in 1681, he took part in the court entertainments at Fontainebleau, writing an Italian pastoral Nicandro e Fileno, with a libretto by the Duc de Nevers, nephew of Cardinal Mazarin. In 1682 he shared with Lalande the composition of a Serenade en forme d'opéra. Later still he provided a tragedy in music, Orontée, commissioned for the celebrations at Chantilly by the Condés. In 1683 he entered the competition (along with the most important maîtres de chapelle of the kingdom) to recruit sous-maîtres for the Chapel Royal. Although he was unsuccessful, he was, nevertheless, among the fifteen finalists chosen by the King. In July 1683 the death of Queen Marie- Therese forced him to leave the court. He then moved to the Theatines, an Italian religious order established in Paris in 1644. In their church of Sainte- Anne-la-Royale the Theatine fathers organized prayers and ceremonies similar to those practised in the oratories of Rome. Paris and the Court flocked to these occasions which enjoyed a very high reputation, with Lorenzani's music achieving great success.

In this way Lorenzani won fame both at court and in the town, but was probably disappointed not to have succeeded in obtaining more important positions than those he had. At this time Lully held a monopoly over French music at court, imposing taste and rules, and showing no favour to Italian music. He had, in fact, unsuccessfully tried to prevent the performance at Fontainebleau of Lorenzani's pastoral Nicandro e Fileno. Italian music was, in consequence, performed under limited circumstances, in Saint-André-des-Arts, Sainte-Anne-la-Royale and perhaps even in the apartments of Queen Marie-Thérèse. Since his arrival in France, however, Lorenzani had known how to adapt to French aesthetic taste, as had other Italians who emigrated, Gat ti, Bembo, Guido and others, mastering French choral writing, uniting French and Italian styles in an original style in which the melodic line unfolds gracefully and elegantly. Probably discouraged by the failure of the publication of his motets in 1693, Lorenzani left Paris a year later to replace the composer Beretta as maestro di cappella at the Basilica of St Peter in Rome. He remained in Italy until his death in 1713.

The music of Lorenzani that we have today includes, among the Italian works, Motets for one, two, three, four, six or eight voices, with basso continuo, two Magnificats for eight and nine voices, with basso continuo, Litaniesfor four voices and basso continuo and the aria Mi contento cosi. In France there are Italian arias, cantatas, the three-act pastoral Nicandro e Fileno and the 25 Motets published by Ballard in 1683. There are, at the same time. different sources for a motet Obstupescite, for three voices and instruments. attributed either to Lorenzani or to Danielis. This seems very limited in relation to the number of works that Lorenzani must have written during the course of his life. It is said that his scores were in wide circulation in Paris; today many of them are lost.

The five motets here recorded are taken from a collection of separate printed parts from the following, sole source:

Motets à I. II. III. N. ET v. parties, avec simphonies et basse continue par Monsieur Lorenzani. Maistre de Musique de lafeue Reyne. (Paris, Christophe Ballard. 1693.)

The transcription used for this recording is taken from volumes preserved in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale de France. These volumes contain 25 motets, of which twenty are petits motets for a soloist or group of soloists, with or without instruments. The five others are grands motets for soloists, choir and instruments. They come at the end of the volumes and are numbered from XXI to XXV.

It is of these five grands motets that the Concert Spirituel under Hervé Niquet has undertaken the first recording. These motets call for four or five soloists (first soprano and/or second soprano, haute-contre, haute-taille and bass), a four-part choir, a la française (soprano, haute-contre, haute-taille and bass), two treble violin parts, a basse de violon and basso continuo. The form of these works follows the usual scheme of the motet, constructed in different sections determined by a verse or a group of verses in the text. Each motet is preceded by a symphony; this is followed by alternating passages for choir and for soloists, the latter sometimes in arioso recitative (in a style approaching that of Lully) and sometimes in arias. There are a number of melodic turns of phrase in the Italian style, notably in the motet Collaudate and equally in the motet Ad mensam on the word tremisco or again in the panis angelicus sung by the soprano.

The Litanies a la Vierge (Litany of Our Lady) was probably written after Lorenzani' s return to Rome, after 1694, for the Cappella Giulia. It has been transcribed from five separate manuscript parts preserved in the library of the Cathedral of Tivoli, near Rome. These manuscripts are copies dating probably from the first half of the eighteenth century. They are the only known source of the work. Unlike Lorenzani's French motets, this work calls for an Italian ensemble of soprano, contralto, tenor and bass, with organ continuo. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Litany consists of a long series of invocations in which solo voices alternate with the full ensemble.

Fannie Vernaz
(English translation by Keith Anderson)

The motets of Lorenzani were written for two choirs and ensemble, as were those of Lully, Dumont and many other composers of the seventeenth century. The contemporary positioning of the instrumental ensemble is retained for this recording, where it is placed around the organ, in the centre. The two choirs are positioned either side of the ensemble, the larger chorus on the left, soloists to the right. Positive organ (B. Aubertin) and harpsichord (A. Anselm) are tuned by Pascale Serane (a'=392).

Le Concert Spirituel
Patrick Cohen-Akenine et Myriam Gevers: Violins
Gesine Meyer-Eggen: Cello
Marie-Louise Duthoit, soprano (tracks [2], [3], [5] and [6])
Anne-Marie Jacquin, soprano (track [5])
Marie-Pierre Wattiez, soprano (track [1])
Ryland Angel, counter-tenor (tracks [2], [3] and [5])
Emmanuel Bardon, counter-tenor
Didier Bouture, counter-tenor
Serge Goubioud, (tracks [2] and [6])
Caroline Delume et Massimo Moscardo: Theorbo Laurent Stewart: Harpsichord & Organ
Raphaël Boulay, tenor (track [6])
Edmond Hurtrait, tenor (tracks [2] and [3])
Nicolas Maire, tenor (track [5])
Pierre Corbel, bass (track [6])
Normand Richard, bass (tracks [2] and [3])
Emmanuel Vistorky, bass (track [5])

Le Concert Spirituel
Le Concert Spirituel, in its modem reincarnation, has become one of the leading interpreters of its own particular repertoire, with recent appearances at the Utrecht Festival, the London Baroque Music festival and the Musica Antigua Festival in Seville. Its recordings have received general acclaim, both in France and abroad. For Naxos the Concert Spirituel has recorded works by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Boismortier, including the latter composer's Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, a work staged at the Paris opera Comique and in Dijon, Nancy and Metz.

Hervé Niquet
Hervé Niquet follows the example of Baroque musicians in his versatility. In addition to his ability as a keyboard-player, conductor and composer, he also studied singing and from the age of seventeen turned his attention to the establishment and direction of choirs. In 1980 he was appointed chef de chant at the Paris Opera National. In 1985 he was commissioned by Princess Caroline of Monaco to write an orchestral work and ballet inspired by a novel of Stefan Zweig for the re-opening of the Monte Carlo Ballet. Shaped by participation in the principal Baroque ensembles, Hervé Niquet has developed an affinity with the French grand motet of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and to revive this still relatively little known repertoire he established in 1988 Le Concert Spirituel, thus bringing to life again one of the most famous musical institutions of the reigns of Louis xv and Louis XVI. Increasingly in demand as a conductor, Herve Niquet has appeared at the Baroque Music Festival of Lameque in Canada, in addition to other engagements as a conductor in France.

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