The Rarely Heard Christmas Music of a Baroque Master – The New York Times

On Sunday afternoon at Corpus Christi Church in Morningside Heights, the French early-music group Ensemble Correspondances presented a program of Advent and Nativity-theme works by Charpentier that was full of sensual freshness — with occasional stabs of melancholy. The centerpiece of the concert, which was presented under the auspices of the series Music Before 1800 and led from the harpsichord by Sébastien Daucé, was the Christmas Pastorale, an affecting marriage of the bucolic and the spiritual that Charpentier reworked several times for the House of Guise.

This composer is a specialty of this brilliant group, made up of young vocalists and instrumentalists on recorders, violins and various stringed bass instruments. In Marie de Lorraine, Charpentier had found a patron who encouraged artistic experimentation, and he gathered a stellar band of musicians at her private court. Seizing on ample historical records, each Correspondances singer has taken to identifying with a specific member of Charpentier’s circle, so that in concert they not only interpret a musical line but also bring to life a flesh-and-blood Baroque musician.

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