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"Lamentazioni per la Settimana Santa"

María-Cristina Kiehr, soprano
Concerto Soave
Dir: Jean-Marc Aymes
rec: June 2006, Oberried/Breisgau, Pfarrkirche Mariä Krönung
Harmonia mundi - HMC 901952 (© 2007) (69'13")

anon: De lamentatione Ieremiae Prophetae (Feriae VI in Parasceve, Lectio I); De lamentatione Ieremiae Prophetae (Sbbati Sancti, Lectio I); Incipit Oratio Ieremiae Prophetae (Sabbati Sancti, Lectio II); Lamed. Matribus suis dixerunt (Feriae VI in Parasceve, Lectio II); Toccata arpeggiata; Giacomo CARISSIMI (1605-1674): Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, Feria V in Coena Domini; Girolamo FRESCOBALDI (1583-1643): Iod. Manum suam; Giovanni Girolamo KAPSBERGER (c1580-1651): Toccata V [2]; Giovanni Francesco MARCORELLI (c1615-c1675): Aleph. Quomodo obscuratum est aurum (Sabbati Sancti, Lectio II); Giovanni Pierluigi DA PALESTRINA (c1525-1594): Heu mihi Domine (passegiato per la viola) [1]; Michelangelo ROSSI (c1601-1656): Toccata IV [3]

(Sources: [1] Palestrina, Motectorum, liber secundus, 1581; [2] Kapsberger, Libro primo d'intavolatura di lauto, 1611; [3] M Rossi, Toccate e Correnti, 1657)

Sylvie Moquet, viola da gamba; Sergio Alvares, lirone; Mara Galassi, harp; Matthias Spaeter, archlute, chitarrone; Jean-Marc Aymes, claviorganum

For centuries the Lamentations of Jeremiah have inspired composers to write some of their most expressive music. Originally these lamentations were written by the prophet Jeremiah in reaction to the downfall of Judah and its capital Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple of God and the deportation of the Jewish people to Babylon. In the Christian church these texts were considered very appropriate to be recited or sung during the last three days of Holy Week. A parallel was drawn between the destruction of Jerusalem and the suffering and death of Jesus: both were the effect of the people turning away from God. Therefore every chapter of the Lamentation ends with the appeal: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God. This appeal was considered just as suitable for mankind in the modern era. In the renaissance a large number of polyphonic settings were written, but in comparison the number of settings in the baroque era is limited. Today the best-known settings are those written by French composers of the late 17th and early 18th century, like Lambert, Lalande, Charpentier and François Couperin. The Lamentations written by Italian composers of the 17th century are hardly known, probably with the exception of the settings of Emilio de' Cavalieri. Therefore this disc is very important as it presents a choice of pieces from the first half of the 17th century in Italy.

All settings on this disc are from a manuscript which has been found in Bologna and which contains a number of settings by composers who worked in Rome. Among the composers are well-known masters like Gioacomo Carissimi and Girolamo Frescobaldi, but also by hardly-known composers like Marazzoli, Caproli and Rainaldi as well as anonymous pieces. As one would expect the monodic style leaves its mark on several settings in the manuscript. The setting by Frescobaldi is a good example of this. For instance, on the words "si est dolor sicut dolor meus" (if there be any sorrow like unto my own sorrow) Fresobaldi writes a strongly chromatic passage. The settings by Carissimi show how the compositional style in vocal music has developed during the first half of the 17th century. His settings are less declamatory and give more room for lyricism. Of course, the way the texts have been set to music depends on their character: some passages in the Lamentations are more dramatic than others. Composers had several instruments at their disposal to emphasize some elements in the text, like dissonances, modulations, rhetorical gestures and repetition.

The performers have made a very fine choice from the manuscript, and they have put together the settings in such a way that all three Lectiones for every day are performed. The exception is the second day, which has only the first two Lectiones. These are interspersed by instrumental pieces whose character perfectly fits to the atmosphere of the Lamentations.

María-Cristina Kiehr has a wonderful voice, which is perfectly suited for this repertoire. She isn't overly dramatic, but that would be very inappropriate. She rather concentrates on expressing the words and the content of the texts in a very delicate way, and the instrumentalists follow her on this path. Listen, for example to the verse "sedebit solitarius et tacebit: quia levavit super se" (he sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him) from the anonymous Lectio I for Good Friday. The loneliness is perfectly expressed in that the bass part is played just on the lirone.

This is not only one of the most interesting recordings of settings of the Lamentations from any period in music history, but also one of the most exciting, because of the repertoire and the performance.

Johan van Veen (© 2008)

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