on 2 May 2013
The Leçons des tenèbres are extraordinary works, some of the most expressive and beautiful music ever produced by the French school of the time. No surprise that there are so many recordings, including several classics. So this new disc is not an an outright winner, but up there at the very top. Two of the very best singers in this repertory, at the top of their form, with a superbly judged and played accompaniment by a small group of players. This very strong sense of an ensemble performance is a major reason to rate this so highly, alongside the lovely balance achieved by the sound engineer. The smaller items are also elegantly and expressively played, and sustain the reflective mood. In performances like these this music has an emotional impact one does not always associate with the French baroque - I find these pieces quite mesmerising, and would recommend this disc enthusiastically to anyone.
I picked up this cd on a whim - drawn by the names of Couperin, Marais and Sainte-Colombe, three composers whose music I always find fascinating and beautiful in any format. This cd offers firstly Francois Couperin `Le Grand' (1668-1733) Trois Leçons de Ténèbres (Première, Deuxième and Troisième). These three surviving Leçons (for Maundy Thursday) were written probably around 1714, based on the Lamentations of Jeremiah from the Old Testament. Sacred music was becoming popular in the Court of Louis XIV (1638-1715) around this time, and Couperin was an organist at the Chappelle Royale, appointed by Louis in 1693.
Next on the cd is Marin Marais (1656-1728) Tombeau pour Sieur de Ste Colombe (well known from the film Tous les matins du monde about the relationship between Sainte-Colombe and his pupil Marais), and a Chaconne in A Major published first in 1725.
Then back to Couperin for Motet pour le jour de Pâques written for the Chapelle Royale between 1690 and 1703. Sainte-Colombe le fils (the son) (c.1660-1710) Prélude in E minor, and finally Couperin to finish off with Magnificat anima mea.
The King's Consort, on authentic instruments (bass viol, theorbo and chamber organ) are joined by Carolyn Sampson (soprano) and Marianne Beate Kiellane (mezzosoprano). This is wonderfully lyrical and beautiful music, both instrumental and vocal and the voices (instrumental and vocal voices) ring out clearly yet beautifully bell-like in their perfection. The booklet offers the words and English translations, and the cd has over 78 minutes of wonderful early eighteenth century French music to be enjoyed over and over. Definitely recommended.
on 2 April 2013
My, Robert King has been busy since coming out of prison. It's monstrous that a convicted child abuser who showed no remorse at his trial (for he commented in the dock that all those levelling allegations against him were "absolute" liars) can seemingly be rehabilitated back into classical music. Shame on all those involved in this sorry CD.
Lessons of darkness indeed.