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Learning To Love Lully: 'The Grand Motets'

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Learning To Love Lully: 'The Grand Motets'

Learning To Love Lully: 'The Grand Motets'

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Jean-Baptiste Lully was a master composer in 17th century France. He wrote a grant motet for King Louis XIV, the grand motet "Te Deum." But while conducting a performance of the piece, Lully struck himself in the foot with his staff and he later died.

Music critic Tom Manoff has been listening to a new three-CD set of Lully's works, including the infamous grand motet and he has been pleasantly surprised.

(Soundbite of music)

TOM MANOFF: So, here it is: Jean-Baptiste Lully's "Te Deum." The composer was conducting 150 musicians during the famous incident. It must have been quite a show.

(Soundbite of music, "Te Deum")

MANOFF: Tragic story aside, the "Te Deum" is a fine work, as are many of the grand motets on this three-CD box set. I didn't know most of this music. With a few exceptions, French baroque music has never been my particular cup of tea -too much cream and sugar, perhaps.

But there's a stronger drink on these recordings, and I'm giving Mr. Lully a new listen. This motet celebrates the dauphin, the heir to the French throne. Can't say I know much about that guy, but every time I get to the end of this captivating track, I hit repeat.

(Soundbite of music)

MANOFF: Here's another motet that Lully composed for the king.

(Soundbite of music)

MANOFF: This box set puts together three previously recorded CDs from the group Le Concert Spirituel, conducted by Herve Niquet. The soloists on this recording are mostly first-rate, though a few tracks could be better. But at 16 bucks for three CDs, it's a fine entryway into the music of this composer. Another option is downloading tracks that you might like. These run about 90 cents. Meantime, I'm going to listen to more from Jean-Baptiste Lully. Could be that I've missed a lot of good music.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: That was Tom Manoff reviewing "Lully: Complete Grant Motets" performed by Le Concert Spirituel.

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