Thursday, December 15, 2016

Noël Baroque played with joie de vivre

The impetus behind this release was simple: Sofi Jeannin wanted her Maîtrise choir to sing Christmas music. Enter François Lazarevitch, director of the early music ensemble Musiciens de Saint-Julien.

He had been collecting 16th and 17th-century French carols and was looking for a fresh way to present them. The resulting album is a wonderful blending of tradition and invention -- and some great music to enjoy for the holidays.

Most of the French baroque carols, such as those by Michel Corrette and Louis-Claude Daquin, were composed for organ. Lazarevitch arranged the works for his ensemble and gave the music voice. Jeannin's Musiciens de Saint-Julien was augmented by children's voices of La Maîtrise de Radio France.

This is not a dry, learned reading of early music. Rather, these selections are delivered with a joie de vivre that's infectious. If Patapan makes you happy, this music will have you smiling. If it doesn't, these performances should win you over. The musicians perform with a high degree of skill, yet seem to retain the earthy enthusiasm of the carols' peasant origins. And that's what makes this album so much fun.

I'm adding Noël Baroque to my short list of holiday music.

Noël Baroque
Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien; Sofie Jeannin, director 
La Maîtrise de Radio France
Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien; François Lazarevitch, director
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