Les Cris de Paris and Geoffroy Jourdain
Harmonia Mundi HMM902632
Passions moved, passions shared, and the Passion of Christ on the Cross. This programme, a seemingly disparate selection of early Baroque Venetian works punctuated by five settings of the Crucifixus, looks like it shouldn’t work, yet in the hands of the musicologist and conductor Geoffroy Jourdain it is both compelling and rewarding. The second Harmonia Mundi album from Les Cris de Paris is so much more than a selection box: it blends ‘transcendentally inspired secular music and sacred music embodied in theatrical fashion’, exploring commonality between sacred and secular genres.
The Crucifixus settings are the highlight of this album and Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus a 10 is a particular standout. Readers will know this from Andrew Parrott’s searingly beautiful recording (Virgin/Erato) but Jourdain’s new performance rivals this for sheer dramatic impact. Whereas Parrott shone a spotlight on the sequence of mouth-watering suspensions in the upper voices, Jourdain undercuts this texture with a menacing continuo team whose percussive strumming evokes the nails on the Cross and provides a springboard for the voices to decry ‘passus et sepultus est’ (suffered and was buried) to devastating effect. Or perhaps Jourdain’s genius here was to follow it with the Entrata to Monteverdi’s Ballo delle ingrate. Strange bedfellows in theory but a superb transition in practice. This disc is a fine evocation of Baroque passions in every sense and one that keeps giving beyond the first few hearings. Absolutely not to be missed.
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