The name of Henry du Mont has rested in the shadow cast by those giants of the French Baroque, Lully and Rameau, yet this ‘foreign’ composer (born near Liège in 1610) rose to the heights, directing Louis XIV’s chapel from 1663 to 1683.
Inspired by the Italian-style encountered in his Flemish upbringing, du Mont wrote numerous petits motets for two or three voices with instrumental parts and was one of the first to introduce basso continuo into French music. His other great contribution was to develop the grand motet, which pitted a petit choeur of soloists against a grand choeur and interleaved instrumental episodes in which many of the king’s famous string players featured.
Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances give polished and empathetic performances of both forms of motets. Smaller works such as the heartfelt Sub Ombra Noctis Profundae allow solo voices, like that of bass, Nicolas Brooymans to display emotional range while larger works, in particular O Mysterium and Super Flumina Babylonis, brilliantly evoke the splendour of Louis’ court with voluptuous textures and elegant turns of musical phrase. Daucé’s forces communicate with energy, passion and precision. Engineering and presentation are of Harmonia Mundi’s usual high standard.