La Nuova Musica: Sacrifices

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brossard,Carissimi,Charpentier
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: La Nuova Musica: Sacrifices
WORKS: Charpentier: Le reniement de Saint Pierre; Sacrificium Abrahae • Carissimi: Historia di Jephte • Brossard: Symphonies pour le Graduel, SDB 228 & 229; Sonate en trio
PERFORMER: La Nuova Musica/David Bates

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These exquisite Baroque oratorios – moral musical entertainments – combine dramatic texts, sensuous music and persuasive rhetorical devices to convey Biblical stories with affecting power and fervour. Charpentier’s Le reniement de Saint Pierre re-enacts Peter’s denial of Christ through narration and dialogue, vividly brought to life here by La Nuova Musica. Youthful voices and transparent instrumental textures capture both the intimacy and the immediacy of this music – to poignant effect in the final chorus, where soaring lines and anguished dissonances paint Peter’s grief.

The sound is unsullied and open, too, in Charpentier’s setting of the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac. The grim exchange between father and son, as the boy is led to sacrifice, has an innocent candour, though the dialogue might have benefited from greater emotional intensity and two more sharply differentiated tenors. The final work, Carissimi’s Historia di Jephte, sets part of the Biblical account of Jephtha’s rash if unwitting vow to sacrifice his own daughter. Sophie Junker is outstanding as the ill-fated girl, her voice agile and mellifluous, her text delivery impelling.

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The vocal works are interwoven with gracious instrumental music by Sébastien de Brossard, felicitously played and expressively shaded by this fine team of players. Kate Bolton