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Classical - Released October 30, 2020 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
An Italian travel diary. Paris, 1665: a young composer leaves the Saint-Michel district to embark on a journey to Rome. The journey promises to be a long one, its stopovers rich in encounters for Charpentier. On this new recording, Sébastien Daucé invites us on an imaginary recreation of that voyage of initiation, from Cremona (Merula) to Rome (Beretta), by way of Venice (Cavalli) and Bologna (Cazzati). A journey in space, but also in time, through the sources of inspiration of a composer whose future works were to recall the colours of Italy – as the magnificent Mass for four choirs testifies. © harmonia mundi
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Classical - Released September 3, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
Formed in 2008, Sebastien Daucé's Ensemble Correspondances is now firmly established as a byword for quality and creativity in the performance of early music, with their acclaimed revivals of both the known and the long-neglected sacred and secular music of seventeenth century France, and with a rich discography to match. This latest recorded offering now sees them step out beyond France's borders for a foray into the Germanic repertoire, the headline pieces being a major work each from Dietrich Buxtehude and Heinrich Schütz. Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri (“The limbs of our Jesus”) opens the programme. An ambitious seven-part cycle of Passion cantatas over which an unnamed observer slowly raises their gaze from the feet of the scourged “Man of Sorrows” to his face, this was composed in 1680 for Buxtehude's friend Gustav Düben. Düben was music director to the Swedish court, and the work was probably commissioned for a court occasion, most likely premiered in the galleries of the German Church in Stockholm, which the court church at the time. Buxtahude's own official role was as organist at Lübeck's Marienkirche – a title which, in contrast to the kantor role which would have obliged him to be churning out new liturgical music every week, allowed him to compose when and how he wished, thus cutting no corners on quality. That's very apparent in this cycle, which book-ends poetic texts set as strophic arias with biblical words set for full instrumental and vocal forces, all couched within an imaginative tonal progression which opens with the feet in the darkest tonalities using flats, before gradually moving through to the brighter, sharp tonalities as the eyes move up towards the face (although it's eventually a C minor close, for architecture's sake). Daucé's personal contribution to the mix has then been to prepare a new edition from the original performing parts which has further enrichened the colouristic and textural palette: adding a viola part for three of the cantatas; changing the allocation of stringed bass instruments so that the viol and violone aren't systematically playing with the continuo or violins; having two voices to a part for the chorus numbers, thus clearly distinguishing between soli and ripieni. Add Ensemble Correspondances's expressive, crisply articulated and suavely blended vocal performances, and the lucid delicacy of the instrumental support, and the results are very fine. Schütz's major offering meanwhile is his late-career masterpiece, Die sieben Worte (“The Seven Words”), which inventively combines motet-like settings with expressive recitative. However the programme's joys aren't limited to its headline events. For instance there's also Schütz's Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott, a vocal concerto with densely contrapuntal instrumental textures which here grabs from the off with the beautiful puritan sobriety of the ensemble string tone, and the gently impassioned soprano entry. Then, for a real rarity, complementing mourning music from Buxtehude is the state music-redolent Lamentum by Swedish organist Ludert Dijkman (c1645-1717), written at the passing of two Swedish princes. It'll be fascinating to see where Daucé turns next. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
The famous Ballet Royal de la Nuit, danced on by Louis XIV when he was fifteen years old, was performed at the Louvre in 1653 over seven evenings. It was a complete success: Mazarin, back from exile after the Fronde, wanted to make an impact with this ballet he had conducted himself: the goal was to impose respect for the aristocracy, impress Parisians, and spread the royal message through the ambassadors. Without a doubt, the Ballet Royal de la Nuit was one of the most striking spectacles of Louis XIV’s reign, on many levels: politically, institutionally, aesthetically, and musically. For the first time, a score had been built around four parts and a final ballet with everything working towards the same objective: staging a sunrise. The King himself danced, as well as his brother and several Dukes. Characters, scenes, decors and costumes perfectly encapsulate the Great Century. Each verse alternates between whimsical, serious, comic, burlesque, mythological, and Romanesque. As previously mentioned the objective is to impose a royal figure above all others, whilst creating a never seen proximity between the monarch and his subjects. With each part, ladies of the court, hunters, gods, bandits, cripples, soldiers, Egyptians, etc. coexist freely. The show highlights everything that goes on at night, when the good people are asleep. The message is clear: ”The Sun that follows me is the young Louis!”, and yet, after 1653, the Ballet Royal de la Nuit was never performed again. On top of this, the ballets partition – authored by several composers as it was a collective work – was lost with the exception of the first violin part, copied by Philidor a few decades later. However, the vocal music was retrieved, as well as the score. The work had to be pieced back together, a colossal task: this is a “pastiche” in the historic meaning of the word, but fantastically convincing. The excellent accompanying booklet for this wonderful recording by Sébastien Daucé and his Correspondances Ensemble cites all the sources that were used for the reconstitution. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released August 25, 2017 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
Marc-Antoine Charpentier always had an ambiguous relationship with opera. While living in Rome in the late 1660s he had a chance to familiarise himself with this fast-expanding vocal genre. When he returned to Paris, some time around 1670, he was able to witness the creation of the Académie Royale de Musique, followed by the birth of the tragédie en musique, that typically French genre elaborated by Jean-Baptiste Lully over a lengthy period. Although his functions with his new patrons, particularly the Jesuits and the Grand Dauphin, tended to push him in the direction of sacred music, Charpentier was often tempted to write operatic works. Unfortunately, like all his contemporaries, he came up against the hegemony of the jealous Lully, who ensured the doors of the Opéra remained closed to him. It was not until 1693, six years after the Lully’s death, that he finally gained access to that institution; his only tragédie en musique, Médée, was a failure - deemed too dense, too learned. Yet Charpentier’s attraction for musical theatre may be observed throughout his career, in the numerous scores of incidental music, his two biblical tragedies intended for the Jesuit colleges, and above all the divertissements. Charpentier’s divertissements are on a small scale (a few scenes or else short one-act pieces) and conceived for relatively modest forces. Their inspiration is mythological, allegorical or heroic; they mingle light-hearted and dramatic elements. In all these respects, they owe a great deal to the genre of the pastorale en musique, the earliest specimens of which contributed to the rise of French opera. Alongside his motets and histoires sacrées in Latin intended for the devotions of the princess, Charpentier invented for her more secular recreations, small vocal forms sung in French, genuine miniature operas tailor-made for the little company of musicians she maintained at her Parisian town house.These chamber operas, marginal in comparison to the large-scale tragédie en musique cultivated by Lully, occupy a highly individual place in the late seventeenth-century musical landscape. The last short opera Charpentier wrote for the princess, La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers (late 1686-early 1687), constitutes in its breadth and dramatic density a little gem of seventeenth-century French vocal art. References to the myth of the shepherd musician are rare in French literature at that time. Only two eponymous tragedies had appeared before Charpentier’s little opera. In the domain of music, the French usually depicted Orpheus merely in his persona as a player of the lyre, in which he appears in several ballets de cour. Charpentier was therefore one of the first French composers to take up the myth in its full dimensions. He had already produced a version of it in 1683, in a short divertissement called Orphée descendant aux Enfers, which may be regarded as the earliest example of the French cantata, another miniature vocal genre that was to flourish in the aristocratic gatherings of the early eighteenth century. Conceived on a larger scale, La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers unfolds over two acts. The first installs the listener in the bucolic universe typical of the pastorale, peopled by nymphs who have come to celebrate with carefree joy the wedding of Eurydice with the shepherd Orpheus. But Eurydice is mortally wounded by a serpent, and soon sees her strength ebbing away. Her sudden death leaves her companions and Orpheus distraught and tearful. Then Apollo convinces his son to go to beseech Pluto, and try to make him yield to the power of his songs. The more extended Act Two retraces Orpheus’ difficult quest through the Underworld, where he charms first of all the damned souls, in the hope of bringing Eurydice back with him. Charpentier’s manuscript stops at the point when Orpheus commences his journey back to the light, leaving the denizens of the Underworld in despair at his departure. One may therefore surmise that the work, which thus sets only part of the myth, has come down to us incomplete, or that the composer left it unfinished. It is true that the autograph manuscript exhibits none of the conclusive gestures he often uses. But why not, on the contrary, envisage the hypothesis that Charpentier consciously crafted this conclusion, which leaves the myth in suspense, without the edifying moral resolution which the litterati of the time were generally so fond of. For the work does possess a genuine musical conclusion, in the yearning Sarabande légère danced by the Shades deploring the departure of Orpheus, who leaves them only “so sweet a memory” of his songs. If this ending is indeed deliberate, the work assumes a particular emphasis and may be read as an optimistic interpretation of the myth, which is considered more as an allegory of the union of body and soul. A symbol of the fragility of humanity, but also of its ability to surpass itself in defiance of the ineluctable laws of nature, Charpentier’s Orpheus thus embodies the full creative force that the power of love can elicit, and, finally, in a humanistic ideal, also represents the perfection that the human soul can attain through art. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 29, 2016 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet
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Classical - Released September 29, 2011 | Zig-Zag Territoires

Booklet
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Classical - Released June 1, 2010 | Zig-Zag Territoires