Francois Couperin, La Nuova Musica, David Bates - Leçons de Ténèbres

Published Monday 14th November 2016
Francois Couperin, La Nuova Musica, David Bates - Leçons de Ténèbres
Francois Couperin, La Nuova Musica, David Bates  - Leçons de Ténèbres

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 163544-25125
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMU805679

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

François Couperin (1668-1733) was a Parisian organist who worked also in the Royal Court of Louis XIV. The 'Leçons de Ténèbres' are based on texts from the Book of Lamentations where the Prophet Jeremiah mourns the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonians in 586 BC. In the Roman Catholic Church these texts were used at Matins (in the wee small hours) in the days leading up to Easter. The music is, appropriately, sombre and the performances and audio quality on this SACD are outstanding. Sopranos Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts both sing very well indeed, as we would expect on a professionally recorded disc, but this is far more than singing the right notes in the right order; they take us to the heart of the music and when they sing together we do indeed hear something special. While Couperin rightly takes top billing on this release they fill only 40 minutes so we are also given two sonatas and a Stabat Mater by his contemporary Sebastien De Brossard (1655-1730). The two composers sit most comfortably together and I am confident that any listener who enjoys Couperin will be pleased to hear Brossard. No less a figure than J S Bach admired Couperin's compositions and any readers who enjoy Bach and baroque singing in general should investigate this release.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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