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Briefly Noted: Leçons de Ténèbres

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Lalande, Leçons de Ténèbres, S. Karthäuser, Ensemble Correspondances, S. Daucé

(released on March 10, 2015)
HMC902206 | 76'
Charles T. Downey, CD review: An enlightened new recording of Lalande
Washington Post, September 18
From the Passions of J. S. Bach to the Masses of Mozart, dramatic and operatic styles invaded church music in the 18th century; while in France, Louis XIV’s love of opera and dance was reflected in the music for his Chapelle Royale. This recording examines some elaborate solo music composed by the most important composer who served the French royal chapel, Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726).

Many Catholic composers created elaborate musical settings from the Lamentations of Jeremiah to frame readings proper to the three final days of Holy Week, leading up to Easter. Lalande created his operatic solo versions of these readings, the “Leçons de Ténèbres,” for celebrations at the Couvent de l’Assomption, a community of nuns on the Rue Saint-Honore in Paris. It was not uncommon for the more musically refined religious communities in Paris to decorate their liturgies with pieces sung by professional musicians. Lalande often wrote these for his gifted daughters to sing, until they died of smallpox in 1711...
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