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Sacred Vocal Music - Released August 19, 2016 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice - 4 étoiles Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The name of Johann Joseph Fux is known today mostly for his still-in-use counterpoint textbook Gradus ad Parnassum, and Johann Caspar Kerll is accounted a minor Viennese follower of Carissimi whom you might encounter if you take a course devoted to Baroque music. Yet both the works heard here expose sides of the Baroque not known to those who study only the High Baroque Italian, German, and English works. Fux's Requiem was written for a major function, the funeral of Eleonora de Gonzaga, the widow of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, and it was reused for other court funerals. Kerll's work, by contrast, is a more intimate piece that seems to have had no external stimulus and to have been written with his own death in mind (unlike Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, despite the rumors). The Kerll mass, with the voices often breaking down into duets and trios, is more successfully performed here. Sample the "Sanctus" (track 5) to hear the chamber-like quality of this mass, with its distinctive harmonic progressions. The multi-sectional "Sequence," as discussed in the informative booklet, may or may not have been part of the mass to begin with, but it works effectively here. The Fux Requiem must have been a grand work in its time, but little of that grandeur, or even of the basic structural contrast between solo and ripieno vocal group, comes through in this underpowered performance, with just two singers per part. The size of the St. Stephen's Kantorei in Haydn's time, with six boy sopranos alone, would suggest a larger group, or at least one that did not blend into the scenery as much as those of the Vox Luminis vocal ensemble do. The viol ensemble L'achéron under Lionel Meunier has a fine, hushed tone; the larger Scorpio Collectief in the Fux seems to have to rein itself in. The sound, from a pair of Belgian churches, is superb. © TiVo
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Cantatas (sacred) - Released June 14, 2019 | Ricercar

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
After having explored the remaining cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach’s ancestors, Vox Luminis and Lionel Meunier have undertaken here a recording, accompanied by instrumentals, of these sacred vocal compositions. They are pieces that connect us to the principles of the “spiritual concert” (Geistliches Konzert) and that, through their multi-parted structure, belong to the origins of the sacred genre of the cantata. It was through Johann Sebastian himself that we owe the knowledge of his musical ancestors. Around the age of fifty, he felt the need to collate and retrace his family tree, most likely originating from Hungary where the miller Vitus Bach always brought a cittern with him on his way to grinding wheat. The works of the Bach family presented here represent the first of the sacred German cantatas along with those of Bruhns, Buxtehude and Pachelbel. We can hear here the predecessors’ works that led to one of the first similar works by Johann Sebastian, his cantata “Christ lag in Todesbanden BWV 4”, was considered for a long time as one of the first compositions of its genre. In addition to its striking likeness to the form of cantata eponymous to Pachelbel, this composition contains numerous elements which can notably be traced back to the works of his ancestors. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Henry Purcell's King Arthur, or The British Worthy, occupies the small genre of English semi-operas, i.e., stage works in which the most of the main characters speak dialogue, but songs, choruses, and incidental music provide commentary on the action. This 2018 performance by Lionel Meunier and the period ensemble Vox Luminis presents King Arthur without speaking parts, so the music is continuous and complete on two CDs, and displays the variety of musical forms and effects Purcell employed to make John Dryden's somewhat confusing play -- a mixture of Norse and British mythology -- come to life. The singing is lively and rhythmically precise, and the cast's diction is clear enough to make following the libretto virtually unnecessary. The best-known selections of King Arthur include the famous Frost Scene (What Power Art Thou at the beginning of Act III, which was adapted by minimalist composer Michael Nyman for his composition, Memorial), and Venus' air from the closing masque, Fairest Isle, has endured as one of Purcell's most-beloved songs. Alpha's recording captures the performance with crisp details and a clean background that allows the voices and instruments to be heard without excessive resonance. © TiVo
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
In 1668, Dietrich Buxtehude, then thirty one years old, took up the very sought-after tenure of organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, then a Hanseatic metropolis of considerable relevance; the organist had at that time one of the most desirable social statuses. He soon caused a sensation with the church concerts he held outside of religious services and that happened every year, in the early evening, on the five Sundays preceding Christmas. During these “Abendmusiken” (vespertine music), as they were called, were sometimes performed great works falling withing the oratorio genre, but more often was performed a mix of instrumental pieces, church tunes, psalm arrangements and cantata-like works. From the 1700s, these series of concerts had become a major cultural event of the city. Released from the daily handling of religious music handled by the Marienkirche’s Cantor—as was often the case at the time in North Germany—, Buxtehude only composed works on his own initiative, which allowed him to give them a quality level noticeably higher than that of the Cantor, for example, forced to compose non-stop, from one Sunday to another. The cantatas recorded here demonstrate the high artistic ambitions of these vocal works: they often digress from stylistic and generic conventions of their time and answer the tasks imposed by the texts with bold musical solutions, daring and absolutely splendid. The sonatas from Buxtehude completing the vocal program of this disc are also characterized by their markedly experimental character. Olivier Fortin’s Masques Ensemble—recorder, strings, positive organ—and Lionel Meunier’s Vox Luminis join forces to offer us these gems from the turn of the North German 18th century, such gems that the young Bach didn’t hesitate, in 1705, to travel on foot from Arnstadt—a 100-league trip—to come listen to Buxtehude, his organ play and probably his famous Abendmusiken. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 10, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Classical - Released January 10, 2020 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
The Orpheus myth was as important for the birth of opera in France as it had been in Italy. In 1684, Charpentier composed a work for three voices, Orphée descendant aux Enfers. With this piece, remarkable for its style and concision, he showed how well he had assimilated Carissimi’s art. It is a dramatic scene, similar to the ‘sacred histories’ of the Roman master. The text, by an unknown author, narrates Orpheus’ quest for his beloved in the Underworld. The hero’s haute-contre gives him an elegiac timbre – this was the vocal register in which Charpentier, himself a singer, excelled. In 1687 he created his second illustration of the myth, La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers. In its two acts can be discerned the outline of a possible complete opera – the manuscript has reached us shorn of the third act in which Orpheus would presumably have lost Eurydice before being devoured by the Maenads. While La Descente d’Orphée has already been recorded several times, the Orphée of 1684 is a rarity and a magnificent discovery. In these two roles that might have been written for him, Reinoud van Mechelen is at the peak of his artistry, while his ensemble A Nocte Temporis and Lionel Meunier’s group Vox Luminis blend in perfect symbiosis. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released November 17, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet
After several recordings on Ricercar and a first disc on Alpha, "Actus Tragicus", containing early Bach cantatas, ‘of staggering profundity, purity and beauty’ (ffff Télérama), Lionel Meunier and his ensemble Vox Luminis devote this new project to two showpieces by Handel and Bach. Of these two composers born in 1685, the first travelled to Italy in 1707 and made a powerful impression in Rome with the creation of his Dixit Dominus, while the second produced one of his finest compositional tours de force in the Magnificat of 1723/32-35. Two works from the core repertoire of the Belgian ensemble, here fielding combined vocal and instrumental forces, which is perfectly versed in the style and expression of Baroque rhetoric. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released May 20, 2014 | Ricercar

Booklet