Michel-Richard de Lalande was a contemporary of Jean-Baptiste Lully and François Couperin. Like them, he served at the court of Louis XIV. Lalande’s strength was composing grand motets; elegant, extravagant, grand music suited for the Royal Chapel at Versailles.

This release presents three examples. All three require a large orchestra (for the Baroque period, that is). All three have big choruses and brilliantly written vocal solos.

The earliest, De Profundis, dates from 1689. It’s not as expansive as the other two works. Lalande follows the five-part à la française” style of Lully for his instrumental sections. The chorus weaves contrapuntal lines of great beauty and complexity.

The Venite exultemus Domino (1701) and Dominus regnavit (1704) are somewhat different. Lalande’s music exudes royal pomp and grandeur. The counterpoint is reigned in, deployed now for the greatest dramatic impact. Heraldic flourishes decorate the instrumental passages.

The assembled musicians perform with accuracy and clarity. These recordings were made in the Chapelle Royale at Versailles — the very space they were created for. There’s a nice decay to the sound, establishing a sense of space.

Even so, the performances didn’t quite hit the mark for me. They seemed to lack a little energy, and the overall sound had a softness to it. This release had more plusses than minuses. If French Baroque is your passion, you should give this release a listen.

Michel-Richard de Lalande: Grands Motets
Chantal Santon-Jeffery, sporano; Reinoud Van Mechelen, countertenor; François Joron, tenor; Lisandro Abadie, baritone
Les Pages & Les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles; Collegium Marianum; Olivier Scheebeli, director
Glossa GCD 924301