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Sébastien Daucé

The sacred music of the French Baroque has largely lacked champions of the sort that have revivified Italian Baroque performance, but the work of conductor, keyboardist, and musicologist Sébastien Daucé is changing that situation. Working with his handpicked Ensemble Correspondances, Daucé has especially emphasized the rediscovery of the choral music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier and related composers. Born on June 4, 1980, in Rennes, France, Daucé attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, studying early music. His training there was varied, encompassing harpsichord, organ, continuo playing, and conducting, and by 2006, he had fallen in with a group of like-minded students who were interested in exploring French music of the late 17th century, above all that of Charpentier. In 2006 and 2007, he served as an assistant to harpsichordist Kenneth Weiss at the Aix-en-Provence Lyric Arts Festival, gaining exposure to the circle of French Baroque performers surrounding Weiss’ associate, William Christie. Certainly influenced by the pioneering historical performance ambitions of these figures, Daucé and his friends were interested in something else: the intimate, inward, and Italianate music of Charpentier more than what they saw as the flashy world of Lully. They officially came together as the Ensemble Correspondances in 2008. From the beginning, the group has been marked by a unique combination of musicological research orientation and a committed spirit in performance. The group got beyond the few “hits” by Charpentier by playing through large amounts of unrecorded material themselves and noting what was liked best. Daucé often conducts from the organ in sacred music, favoring small groups that can convey the reflective quality of the music Charpentier wrote for his Italophilic patroness, Marie of Lorraine. The group’s first Ensemble Correspondances recording, O Maria! Psaumes et Motets Marc-Antoine Charpentier appeared in 2010 on the Zig Zag Territoires label, and the group recorded one more album for Zig Zag Territoires before moving to the larger multinational Harmonia Mundi for the lovely and virtually unheard Litanies de la Vierge (“Litanies of the Virgin”) in 2012. A member of the faculty at the Pôle Supérieur de Paris since 2012, Daucé served in 2018 as guest artistic director of the London Festival of Baroque Music. He has also held the title of associate artist of the Fondation Royaumont. In 2016, Daucé took two ECHO Prizes in Germany, Album of the Year for his recording of the divertissement Le Concert Royal de la Nuit, and Young Conductor of the Year. With 13 albums on Harmonia Mundi under its belt by 2020, the Ensemble Correspondances had begun to explore composers other than Charpentier, although he remained central in their repertoire on recordings and performance. The group has recorded music by Antoine Boësset, Michel Richard de Lalande, Henri du Mont, and Etienne Moulinié, most of it all but unknown, yet of central importance in the later years of what is rightly known as the Grand Siècle. In 2020, Daucé led Ensemble Correspondances on two new releases: Les Plaisirs du Louvre: Airs pour la chambre de Louis XIII and Charpentier: Messe à Quatre Choeurs and Carnets de Voyage d’Italie. The group’s recordings of the early and mid-2020s on Harmonia Mundi included a new reading of Charpentier’s popular Messe de Minuit (or “Midnight Mass”) in 2023.
© James Manheim /TiVo


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