Couperin: Sacred Music; Lully: Miserere
Anthony Lewis
Catalogue No.

Two rare L’Oiseau-Lyre recordings of French Baroque masterpieces, newly remastered and making their first appearance on CD.

From the time of its foundation in 1932 by the Australian-born, Paris-adopted philanthropist Louise Hanson-Dyer, Editions de L’Oiseau-Lyre specialised in French early music as the name of the imprint implied. The company’s first complete scholarly edition a year later comprised the complete works of François Couperin to mark the bicentenary of his death. Although the company’s post-war recording activity centred on London, French repertoire continued to be recorded locally.

This pair of LPs released in 1954 and 1955 marked a bold departure: sacred vocal consort music, still hardly known to the record-buying public, in performances of scholarly authority (for the mid-1950s), technical finesse and lively temperament. This reissue presents them once more, this time on CD, complemented by authoritative booklet notes from the original releases by the respected writer on French music, Marc Pincherle.

Taking the soaring haut-contre line in Couperin’s grand ‘Motet pour Saint-Suzann’ was the English tenor William Herbert who features on several other L’Oiseau-Lyre recordings reissued by Eloquence, alongside the soprano Jennifer Vyvyan and conductor Anthony Lewis: among them Handel’s ‘Semele’ (482 5055) and sacred Litanies by Mozart (482 5041).

Herbert is again one of the soloists in the no-less starrily cast recording of Lully’s imposing setting of the ‘Miserere’. Lewis’ conducting is alive to the cool splendour of Lully’s writing which so tellingly anticipates the set-pieces of Handel’s oratorios. Essential listening for aficionados of the French Baroque and for anyone with an ear for singing of high artistry, whatever the era.




Motet de Sainte-Suzanne

Jennifer Vyvyan, soprano
William Herbert, tenor
George James, bass
Alan Loveday & Neville Marriner, violins
Christopher Bunting, cello
Ralph Downes, organ
Boris Ord, harpsichord
Anthony Lewis

4 Versets d’un Motet composé de l’ordre du Roy (1703)
Verset du Motet de l’année dernière: Qui dat nives
Verset du Motet composé de l’ordre du roi: Deus virtutem convertere
Dialogus inter Deum et hominem

Jennifer Vyvyan & Elsie Morison, sopranos
William Herbert, tenor
George James, bass
Alan Loveday & Neville Marriner, violins
Christopher Bunting, cello
Geoffrey Gilbert & Douglas Whittaker, flutes
Joy Boughton, oboe
Ralph Downes, organ
Boris Ord, harpsichord
Anthony Lewis


Margaret Ritchie & Elsie Morison, sopranos
Alfred Deller, countertenor
Richard Lewis, William Herbert, tenors
Bruce Boyce, baritone
St Anthony Singers
Ensemble Orchestral de L’Oiseau-Lyre
Anthony Lewis


Track previews
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: I. Veni sponsa Christi
Miserere, LWV 25: IV. Tibi soli peccavi et malum
Miserere, LWV 25: XVIII. Benigne fac Domine
Miserere, LWV 25: XVII. Sacrificium Deo spiritus
Miserere, LWV 25: XVI. Quoniam si voluisses
Miserere, LWV 25: XV. Domine labia mea
Miserere, LWV 25: XIV. Libera me de sanguinibus Deus
Miserere, LWV 25: XIII. Docebo iniquos vias tuas
Miserere, LWV 25: XII. Redde mihi
Miserere, LWV 25: XI. Ne proicias me
Miserere, LWV 25: X. Cor mundum crea
Miserere, LWV 25: IX. Averte faciem
Miserere, LWV 25: VIII. Audite meo dabis
Miserere, LWV 25: VII. Asperges me hysopo
Miserere, LWV 25: VI. Ecce enim veritatem
Miserere, LWV 25: V. Ecce enim in inquitatibus
Miserere, LWV 25: III. Quoniam inquitatem meam
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: II. Date serta, date flores
Miserere, LWV 25: II. Amplius lava mei
Miserere, LWV 25: I. Miserere mei Deus
Dialogus inter Deum et hominem
Verset du Motet composé de l'ordre du roi: XV. Deus virtutem convertere
Verset du Motet de l'année dernière: Qui dat nives
4 Versets d'un Motet composé de l'ordre du Roy: XIV. Justitia tua
4 Versets d'un Motet composé de l'ordre du Roy: XIII. Adolscentulus sum ego
4 Versets d'un Motet composé de l'ordre du Roy: XII. Ignitum eloquium tuum
4 Versets d'un Motet composé de l'ordre du Roy: XI. Tabescare me fecit
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: VII. Filiae Israel
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: VI. O Susanna
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: V. Voluit Dominus
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: IV. O Susanna
Motet de Sainte-Suzanne: III. Jubilemus
Miserere, LWV 25: XIX. Tunc acceptabis
Recording information

Recording Producer: Ray Minshull (Lully)
Recording Engineer: André Charlin (Couperin)
Recordings: 1953 (Couperin); 1954 (Lully)
LP Releases: L’Oiseau-Lyre OL 50079 / Fontana SFL 14131 (Couperin); OL 50166 (Lully)


‘Madame de Sevigne declared that in heaven there could be no other music but Lully’s and this lovely work makes one understand just what she meant … The performance is imbued with true artistry.’ Gramophone, November 1954

‘Professor Lewis keeps things going and takes advantage of every opportunity for achieving variety … [the soloists] blend into an effective ensemble. Good recording.’ High Fidelity, October 1955 (Lully)

‘William Herbert, in excellent voice, deals very successfully with the high tessitura of his vocal line … Anthony Lewis directs the admirable and well-toned instrumental playing … and the recording and balance are first-rate.’ Gramophone, November 1955 (Couperin)