Sébastien Daucé conducts De Lalande's Leçons de ténèbres

Ensemble Correspondances

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Sophie Karthäuser — Soprano

Ensemble Correspondances

Sébastien Daucé — Conductor

Program notes

In 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon besieged, seized, and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Jeremiah mourned the fallen city in the Book of Lamentations and, more than two thousand years later, the tradition of the Leçons de ténèbres emerged in France. A vocal music setting based on the biblical text, the Leçons de ténèbres (Lessons of darkness) evoke Jesus' suffering and death during religious services in the week preceding Easter, during which the candles illuminating the church's interior are gradually extinguished to total darkness.

From the breathtaking Chapelle de Corneille in the northern French city of Rouen, violas da gamba join with lutes and other prized instruments of Baroque-era royal courts, interlacing delicately with soprano Sophie Karthäuser’s ethereal voice. These sometimes sober, sometimes highly ornamented Leçons de ténèbres by Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657–1726)—first sung by one of the composer's daughters in the presence of the Sun King Louis XIV—are brought to full luster, poignant and exalted, by Sébastien Daucé at the head of his extraordinary Ensemble Correspondances in this beautifully filmed concert.

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