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De Lalande: Leçons De Ténèbres / Isabelle Desrochers


Release Date: 08/28/2007 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 8913   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Marin MaraisMichel Richard DelalandeRobert de ViséeFrançois Couperin
Performer:  Pierre TrocellierMauricio BuragliaNima Ben DavidIsabelle Desrochers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Beautiful, gentle introvert sacred music from the French Baroque played with great grace and style by an intimate band of musicians – soprano, theorbo, viola da gamba and harpsichord/organ. Could only fail to appeal to the most cold-hearted.

Here is a generous disc - almost an hour and a quarter of wonderful music - centring on the Leçons de Ténèbres by French Baroque composer Michel-Richard de Lalande. These are set in the context, and interleaved with, four much shorter pieces in the tombeau style by almost exact contemporaries of de Lalande, Marin Marais, Robert de Visée; and uncle to François Couperin, Louis, from the preceding generation. Soprano Isabelle Desrochers is joined by
Read more harpsichordist/organist Pierre Trocellier with Mauricio Buraglia (theorbo) and Nima Ben David to perform music of great beauty, eloquence and atmosphere. It’s all imaginatively conceived and excellently played.

Michel-Richard de Lalande was one of the most influential and accomplished composers of sacred music for performance by women at the court of Versailles in the years around the beginning of the eighteenth century. At a time when most such music was the province of male voices, it was almost certainly because of the gifts of de Lalande’s wife, Anne Rebel, and their two daughters, Marie-Anne and Jeanne that the composer set such store by music he obviously deemed suitable for their particular talents. Of this corpus, his three surviving Leçons de Ténèbres are not only the most typical examples, but the most expressive and persuasive. On the sequence in this recording are the third leçons only (the other two in each case have been lost; we would have had nine in all) for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Holy Week.

Sombre, slow, pensive and intense, the leçons last 18, 22 and 12 minutes respectively. A single solo soprano almost guides the continuo players - and would have originally led the congregation - through an Old Testament (‘Lamentations of Jeremiah’) narration. This accompanies the gradual extinguishing of candles in the place of worship until there is complete darkness.

Rarely (as towards the start of the leçon for Thursday) is the downbeat and subdued mood broken. Chromatic, studied, depressed almost, the leçons are highly evocative. And the forces assembled here for part of Naïve’s (though issued by Audivis/Astrée in 1996) ‘Baroque Voices’ series (number 6) are extremely well attuned to that evocation. Gentle, undemonstrative, inward-looking and helped by a quiet and intimate recording, they really make the most of music that deserves to be played and replayed until it has seeped into the listener as incense might into the heads of believers.

Since the leçons took the form of Odes, there is a declamatory element to them. Indeed, they each end with an exhortation to Jerusalem to ‘Convertere: Turn to the Lord, thy God’. Perhaps Desrochers dismisses the dramatic potential for this ever so slightly; the music is chromatic and contains tensions building on expectations that would have made such an interpretation natural. But this is a small point. Her singing is solid, appropriately rich and direct; yet relaxed and delivered in such a way that the music speaks for itself. There is no dressing here.

Between the leçons, then, are tombeaux or commemorative encomia of a (recently) dead member of the composer’s family or of a luminary in (local) musical or cultural circles. Consciously avoiding any attempt to recreate the full Leçons de Ténèbres service with any degree of authenticity, this CD includes four tombeaux appropriate to French Baroque music of the late seventeenth century. Eventually tombeaux took the form of ‘allemandes’ and acquired the status of a respected genre in their own right. Interestingly, and touchingly, Tombeau des Mesdemoiselles de Visée remembers his daughters. The tombeaux for both Blancrocher (a lutenist who fell down stairs) and Lully (who accidentally stabbed himself with a baton) recall violent deaths.

The booklet is useful, contains the texts in Latin, French, English and Spanish. This is satisfying, stimulating and somehow unpretentiously genuine music making that will have wide appeal. There are other versions available of most of the material here. But this can safely be recommended.

-- Mark Sealey, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Pièces de viole, Book 2: Suite no 4 in B minor - Tombeau pour M Lully by Marin Marais
Performer:  Pierre Trocellier (Harpsichord), Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo), Nima Ben David (Viola da gamba)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1701; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 6 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2. Leçons de Ténèbres, H 31: no 1, Leçon du Mercredy by Michel Richard Delalande
Performer:  Isabelle Desrochers (Soprano), Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo), Pierre Trocellier (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 17 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
3. Tombeau des Mesdemoiselles de Visée by Robert de Visée
Performer:  Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 3 Minutes 36 Secs. 
4. Leçons de Ténèbres, H 31: no 2, Leçon du Jeudy by Michel Richard Delalande
Performer:  Isabelle Desrochers (Soprano), Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo), Pierre Trocellier (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 22 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
5. Tombeau de Monsieur de Blancrocher by François Couperin
Performer:  Pierre Trocellier (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
6. Leçons de Ténèbres, H 31: no 3, Leçon du Vendredy by Michel Richard Delalande
Performer:  Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo), Isabelle Desrochers (Soprano), Pierre Trocellier (Organ)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1711; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 12 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
7. Pièces de viole, Book 2: Suite no 8 in E minor - Tombeau pour M de Sainte-Colombe by Marin Marais
Performer:  Nima Ben David (Viola da gamba), Mauricio Buraglia (Theorbo), Pierre Trocellier (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1701; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/1996 
Venue:  T. Varga Auditorium, Sion, Switzerland 
Length: 6 Minutes 33 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Pieces de viole, Book 2: Tombeau pour Monsieur de Lully
9 Lecons de tenebres: IIIe Lecon du Mercredi Saint, s118
Tombeau des Mesdemoiselles de Visee
9 Lecons de tenebres: IIIe Lecon du Mercredi Saint, s118: 9 Lecons de tenebres: IIIe Lecon du Jeudi Saint, s121
Tombeau de M. de Blancrocher
9 Lecons de tenebres: IIIe Lecon du Mercredi Saint, s118: 9 Lecons de tenebres: IIIe Lecon du Vendredi Saint, s124
Pieces de viole, Book 2: Tombeau pour monsieur de Sainte Colombe

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