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Charpentier Lecons de ténébres

Les Talens Lyriques

Christophe Rousset conductor/organ

Kaori Uemura viola da gamba

Arika Escriba-Astaburuaga soprano

Isabelle Poulenard soprano

Anders Dahlin tenor

Wigmore Hall: Saturday 11th April


Charpentier’s Lecons de ténébres, a series of lessons and responsories originally intended to be sung as part of the catholic easter celebrations are formed of three nocturnes comprising three psalms and their respective antiphons and three responsories. These are passionate liturigical texts written in a dramatic style. Originally sung by nuns in Holy week, they offered congregants a chance to reflect on the betrayal and subsequent death of Jesus Christ. The experience would have been a very different one had we been lucky enough to hear the same music in a church lit by a single candle representing the light of Christ in the middle of the night – as was orignally intended.


The music itself is stunningly beautiful concise and florid at the same time, ranging from virtuosic and rhythmically intense to touchingly intimate and mysterious. It was sung admirably by Arika Escriba-Astaburuaga and Isabelle Poulenard, although both struggled with intonation issues in the quieter sections. However, tenor Anders Dahlin was in a league of his own. A voice of warm clarity and passionate expression, he communicated beautifully the passion and drama of the text.

Rousset and Uemura seemed to be of one mind the whole evening with Rousset moving seamlessly from harpsichord to chamber organ.

Tess Ormond