Charpentier: Leçons de Ténèbres

Floral design

[Samuel] Boden, [Stéphane] Degout, Arcangelo, [Jonathan] Cohen
hyperion CDA68171

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ine performances of fine music are on offer here. The disc’s title is justified in the sense that the three leçons do take up more than half the programme but the preceding works are far more than mere starters. The Litanies, especially, show M-AC at his very best, imaginatively deploying a lush six-part vocal ensemble topped out by two instrumental parts, all under-pinned by continuo, of course. The first and third Tenebrae  pieces are scored for baritone and small ensemble, the second for haute-contre and continuo, from which the gamba sometimes emerges as a melodic foil to the voice. Samuel Boden’s singing of this exquisite music is simply superb – just the right mix of passion and dignity. The booklet essay (Eng/Fre/Ger) tells us what we need to know but the sung Latin texts are translated into English only. This is a notable release.

David Hansell

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