Trois histoires sacreés: Dialogus inter
angelum et pastores, Mors Saulis et Jonathae, 'Cum essent congregata ad
praelium', Sacrificium Abrahae
Il Seminario Musicale/Gérard
Astrée Naive E8821
Gérard Lesne (alto or haut-contre, as too was Charpentier)
researched these miniature oratorios, or spiritual operas, at Versailles
and was delighted that they proved to be mature works by a theatrical composer
at the peak of his powers - he dreams of staged performances.
The texts are from the Bible and the subjects are the Dialogue between
The Angel and the Shepherds, The Deaths of Saul & Jonathan,
and the familiar heart-stopping tale of Abraham & Isaac, traversing
very much the same ground as in Britten's Canticle. There are eight solo
singers, who double for the choruses, and seven instrumentalists. Lesne himself
sings the witch of Endor in Saul & Jonathan, 'a fantastic role
for an alto'.
All great stuff, with strong narrative and well depicted dramatic situations.
Gérard Lesne branched out own his own to form Il Seminario
Musicale after working with René Clemencic and William Christie,
who had introduced him to Charpentier. With them he has made some 23 recordings
and earned several awards. This recording is a joy; splendid singing and
playing captured in just the right ambience at Versailles in October 2000.
Comprehensive documentation in small but clear print; you might need your
magnifying glass. There are full words and translations, full details of
who sings what and plays with which instrument, a learned background essay
by Catherine Cassac & an orientation to the project from an interview
with Lesne in February 2001. You can't be much more up to date than that.
Peter Grahame Woolf