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Lamentazioni per la Settimana Santa, María Cristina Kiehr, Concerto Soave, Jean-Marc Aymes (May 8, 2007)
The disc is split into three parts, one for each of the traditional days of the Triduum. Each day features selections from Lamentations settings by a range of composers, some better known (Carissimi, Frescobaldi, Palestrina) than others (Kapsberger, Marcorelli, and some anonymous composers), as well as an instrumental toccata to provide diversion within each day. The excellent continuo accompaniment combines viola da gamba, harp, archlute, lirone, and an odd hybrid instrument called the claviorganum. The unusual tuning of the latter makes quite an aural impression in some of the instrumental selections. In most cases, a complete recording of each composer's Lamentations set would be worthwhile. Taken together, the disc represents a severely telescoped trilogy of the Triduum Tenebrae services, with a focus on the opera/oratorio type of monody that was dominant in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.
Kiehr's searing rendition of the refrain that always concludes the Lamentations readings at Tenebrae ("Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad dominum deum tuum") in the second Carissimi selection could compel the hardest heart to conversion, if not to Jesus then at least to Kiehr's voice. The concise but informative liner essay is by Barbara Nestola, a brilliant younger scholar at the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. The only drawback is the translations, which do not correspond to the Latin text of the Vulgate. The English text has been lifted directly from the King James Bible, which was made directly from the Hebrew texts and at many points is not at all what the singer is singing. This is an issue especially because these composers were all principally concerned with setting the words carefully and with an appropriate affect. This is probably not to everyone's taste, especially at this high price, but for those who like the music of this period, it is a worthy choice.
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901952