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Gérard Lesne, Il Seminario Musicale - Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Léçons de Ténèbres (1993, 1995)

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Gérard Lesne, Il Seminario Musicale - Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Léçons de Ténèbres (1993, 1995)

Gérard Lesne, Il Seminario Musicale - Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Léçons de Ténèbres (1993, 1995)
EAC | FLAC | Track (Cue & Log) ~ 974 Mb | Total time: 63:52+66:13+70:55 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Virgin Classics | 5 45107 2 / 5 45075 2 / 7 59295 2 | Recorded: 1992-1994

The services of Matins and Lauds in the Roman rite for the last three days of Holy Week, the so-called Sacred Triduum are – or were before being replaced by the vernacular liturgy – beautiful and complex. Matins for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday consist of psalms with antiphons, readings from the Lamentations of Jeremiah and versicles and responsories related to and reflecting upon the events of those days. Over the centuries they have proved fruitful inspiration for music, even in post-reformation England, where the Book of Common Prayer continued to prescribe readings from Lamentations and settings of them, often in Latin, continued to be sung in cathedrals and collegiate churches.

Edward Higginbottom, Oxford Baroque, Choir of New College Oxford - Charpentier: Musique sacrée (2013)

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Edward Higginbottom, Oxford Baroque, Choir of New College Oxford - Charpentier: Musique sacrée (2013)

Edward Higginbottom, Oxford Baroque, Choir of New College Oxford - Charpentier: Musique sacrée (2013)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 341 Mb | Total time: 72:30 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Novum | NCR1387 | Recorded: 2012, 2013

The small string ensemble of Oxford Baroque plays the Praeludium with a juxtaposition of sensuousness and decorum…The choir's interjections are fantastically articulate - with gentle use of inégales, gorgeously shaped ornamental cadences and sincere delivery of the texts.

Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XX, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya - Vox Æterna (1996)

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Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XX, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya - Vox Æterna (1996)

Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XX, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya - Vox Æterna (1996)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 392 Mb | Total time: 75:39 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Auvidis Fontalis | # ES 9902 | Recorded: 1989-1995

Vocal music is a reflection of its time, crossing the centuries to reveal emotion, particularly its religious side in which it forms an obvious prayer. Thus, on this recording which begins with Alfonso X. El Sabio all the way to Mozart and Haydn, the Vox Aeterna (Eternal voice) speaks to us, moves us, making itself the intermediary of our own feelings.

Louis Frémaux, Pierre Dervaux - Massenet, Charpentier: Orchestral Works (1994)

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Louis Frémaux, Pierre Dervaux - Massenet, Charpentier: Orchestral Works (1994)

Louis Frémaux, Pierre Dervaux - Massenet, Charpentier: Orchestral Works (1994)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 75:03 | 406 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI Classics | Catalog: 65150

This is a beautiful example of long-gone style, panache, elan - old cliches in writing about classical music…but damned if they aren't fully appropriate here. The Massenet and Charpentier played by the Opera-Comique orchestra and Dervaux, in addition, provide that uniquely French tone color that has just about disappeared from the world long ago, a real treat for those who can appreciate it. The more internationally bland basic sound of the Birmingham group is transcended by the stylish and vigorous leadership of conductor Fremaux. It's been said that no recording of the Le Cid music has bettered it since, and having heard this recording once again after some years, I couldn't agree more. Beautiful stuff, beautifully remastered.

Hugo Reyne, La Simphonie du Marais - Jean de La Fontaine: Un portrait musical (1996)

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Hugo Reyne, La Simphonie du Marais - Jean de La Fontaine: Un portrait musical (1996)

Hugo Reyne, La Simphonie du Marais - Jean de La Fontaine: Un portrait musical (1996)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 408 Mb | Total time: 78:08 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Virgin Veritas ‎| 5 45229 2 | Recorded: 1995

This is a beautiful, thoughtfully compiled disc. It chronologically charts the life of Jean de La Fontaine, that 17th-century master of the fable, through his own words and through music that sets his text, or that he simply admired. There’s one particular coup: the inclusion of identifiable extracts from the opera by Charpentier that sets a text by La Fontaine. Alas, the whole work did not survive, probably for reasons to do with Lully’s royally granted privilege, but the booklet notes make an excellent case for the association with the opera of the few pieces recorded here.

William Christie, Les Arts Florissants - Charpentier: David et Jonathas (1990)

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William Christie, Les Arts Florissants - Charpentier: David et Jonathas (1990)

William Christie, Les Arts Florissants - Charpentier: David et Jonathas (1990)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 627 Mb | Total time: 60:16+62:19 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Harmonia Mundi | # HMA 1901289.90 | Recorded: 1988

Lully may have had a monopoly on the performance of actual opera in France, but David et Jonathas is effectively a sacred opera composed for performance at Jesuit colleges. The work is comprised mostly of arias and choruses; what recitative there is is unusually dramatic–especially in Saul's confrontation with David and his visit to the Witch of Endor to summon the ghost of Samuel. (Dominique Visse as the Witch deserves special mention for a convincing performance in a role that could easily descend into camp.) William Christie's choir and orchestra perform with all the expertise you'd expect; Monique Zanetti makes a rather feminine Jonathan but sings beautifully. In the role of David, the sensitive and heroic countertenor voice of Gérard Lesne is extraordinary.

Philip Ledger, Sir David Willcocks - M.A. Charpentier: Te Deum, Messe de Minuit pour Noel (1989)

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Philip Ledger, Sir David Willcocks - M.A. Charpentier: Te Deum, Messe de Minuit pour Noel (1989)

Philip Ledger, Sir David Willcocks - M.A. Charpentier: Te Deum, Messe de Minuit pour Noel (1989)
EAC | FLAC (image+.cue, log) | Covers Included | 59:58 | 301 MB
Genre: Classical | Label: EMI Classics | Catalog: 7 63135 2

Marc-Antoine Charpentier was the most distinguished French religious composer of his era, whose output includes Masses, motets,psalms and oratorios, many of them extended works rich in texture, color and harmony, and contrapuntally resourceful. Melodically, Charpentier derived a distinctive style, imposing French embellishments and phrase structure on a basically Italian idiom. His 30 or so theater pieces reveal wit and facility. Unfortunately, he remains known for only two works, both of which are on this disc.

Maria Callas Live in Rome 1952 and San Remo 1954 (2002)

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Maria Callas Live in Rome 1952 and San Remo 1954 (2002)

Maria Callas Live in Rome 1952 and San Remo 1954 (2002)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 267 Mb | Total time: 62:36 | Scans included
Classical | Label: EMI | # 5 67922 2 | Recorded: 1952, 1954

These two concerts, from very early in Maria Callas' career, are of the if-you've-got-it-flaunt-it school of singing. At these points in her performing life there was little Callas couldn't do: almost three octaves were at her command; she was fearless (and reckless) with her resources; and her innate dramatic sense was, if not quite in full-bloom, then at least in mid-blush.
The first concert alternates two murderous–and voice-murdering–Verdi heroines, Abigaille and Lady Macbeth, with two coloratura shrinking violets, Lucia and Lakmé. The alternation of heavy and light, brutal and fragile, is astonishing, the variations in tone consistently remarkable, the singing itself absolutely secure. From 1954 we get light coloratura (Dinorah) enchantingly sung; dramatic coloratura (Konstanze) with a vengeance; lovely lyric (Louise) almost convincing but not quite "pretty" enough; and the nearly-overwhelming fireworks of Armida. The sound is acceptable-to-good. This is a must-have.
–Robert Levine

La musique au temps des Castrats: Allegri, Broschi, Charpentier, Gluck, Vivaldi (1995)

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La musique au temps des Castrats: Allegri, Broschi, Charpentier, Gluck, Vivaldi (1995)

La musique au temps des Castrats: Allegri, Broschi, Charpentier, Gluck, Vivaldi (1995)
EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue & Log) ~ 207 Mb | Total time: 47:31 | Scans included
Classical | Label: Astrée | # E 8552 | Recorded:1989, 1992, 1994

It is extremely difficult nowadays to reproduce the sound castrato singers where capable of doing at their time and, too often, one finds voices that are too nasal or merely good falsettos. But in many of the performances in this CD one can let the imagination wander and almost imagine you are in the 18th century. In particular, the performance of James Bowmann is outstanding. Also very special the performace of Charpentier 'Salve Regina' by Gerard Lesne and the others; this of course enhanced by the exquisite sensibility of the director Jordi Saval. Also, the duo of Derek Lee Ragin and Ewa Mallas-Godlewska in 'Son qual nave ch'agitata' is so exquisite it brings tears to your eyes. (Carmen E. Alvarez)