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New Anniversary Edition!
"VOX LUMINIS… 10 years already!
10 years already… although the unbelievable adventure on which Vox Luminis and Ricercar are engaged began a little later. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, so perhaps now I can dare to speak of something that people with any common sense would almost certainly have thought was an error of judgement at the very least. It was towards the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007. I had heard enthusiastic reports (mostly vocal) about a new vocal ensemble, most of whose members had been students at the Conservatory of The Hague. I myself knew a few of them, including Lionel Meunier and Bernard Delvaux. As always, I was keeping my eyes open for new ensembles who could brighten Ricercar’s catalogue not only with new interpretations of familiar works but could also bring new life to long-forgotten scores. The normal thing to do in such circumstances is to hear the group concerned, preferably by attending one of their concerts. Unfortunately Vox Luminis was giving very few concerts at that time and there was no possibility to hear them for several months to come. I asked them if they had a recording of one of their concerts; their reply was a somewhat embarrassed ‘yes’, as it had been made with a small pocket recorder and the sound quality was not at all good. No problem, I replied, and asked to hear it. What happened then was simply incredible: that imperfect recording simply knocked me sideways — although of course I asked trusted colleagues for their opinions as well just to be on the safe side. The recording included extracts from Carissimi’s Jephthe: I had never heard the lament of Jephtha’s daughter and the final chorus sung with such intensity. Plorate colles… Plorate filii Israel… how could one not weep at the beauty of such a performance? In short, I decided to take the risk and Vox Luminis became one of Ricercar’s ensembles shortly afterwards. And what risks we took! Rather than beginning with repertoire that did not pose too many problems, their first recording project was one of the most difficult works of the late Baroque polyphonic vocal repertoire, no less: Domenico Scarlatti’s formidable Stabat Mater for ten voices, the jewel in the crown of some of the world’s best vocal ensembles. What is more, several excellent recordings of the piece already existed. We were crazily irresponsible and oblivious. The singers took part voluntarily and without recompense; if the result did not satisfy us — for we had already realised that we shared the same high standards — we had agreed that that the recording would be scrapped and that would be the end of it. The recording, as we know, was an immense success and put Vox Luminis on the musical map; they were offered more and more concerts, for which the organisers naturally requested them to programme the Stabat Mater. They went on to record Samuel Scheidt’s practically unknown Sacrae Cantiones and then Schütz’s Musicalisches Exequien; the cover of which was a photo of the sarcophagus in front of which this music was first performed; they have also recorded a reconstruction of the music performed at the funeral of Queen Mary. This year they will bring out a double CD containing the complete motets by the ancestors of Johann Sebastian Bach; what is more, since we are discussing future plans, their major release for 2015 will be Carissimi’s Jephthe. Three cheers for Vox Luminis!
And, to celebrate this birthday, Ricercar present a new edition of the first recording of Vox Luminis!"
Jérôme Lejeune, Ricercar's Artistic Director
Here is a programme entirely devoted to sacred music by Domenico Scarlatti. Four compositions, among which the famous Stabat Mater for ten voices, show the diversity of creative styles of the composer. While he is best know for his fabulous 555 keyboard sonatas, he is also a master of the polyphonic art inherited from the renaissance. In this recording, his writing is sturdily poly-choral as well as gently madrigal and he shows a craftsmanship that has little to envy from his illustrious Johann Sebastian Bach.