«Quickly, however, the group got over its jitters and sang persuasively, the three female voices in “Savle Regina” excelling in the tart tonality that characterizes early music. In “Miserere des Jésuites,” a powerful, resonant bass was joined by the three females and then all seven singers in a beautiful harmonization.»

“Quickly, however, the group got over its jitters and sang persuasively, the three female voices in “Savle Regina” excelling in the tart tonality that characterizes early music. In “Miserere des Jésuites,” a powerful, resonant bass was joined by the three females and then all seven singers in a beautiful harmonization. The rapturous applause the group received allayed whatever nervousness it faced in its American premiere at its most prestigious early music festival.

“The second concert also violated one of my criteria: This concert of 17thcentury French sacred music had nothing to do with carnival, but it was vocal, splendidly so. I tend not to gravitate toward religious music, but the BEMF has presented operatic music by Charpentier in recent years, including its Grammy winning disc “La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers” (Orpheus’s Descent into the Underworld), and I wanted to hear live some of his sacred music to see if I could tell the difference.

There were a number of differences that were immediately evident. Instead of being about gods and goddesses from the ancient world and mortals who ill-fatedly interact with them, the motets were Christian and abstract: no stories told. The texts were in Latin rather than French. And although Charpentier’s sound-world was similar in both his sacred and profane works, the tradition of polyphonic sacred music from the middle ages still was evident in his religious music.

Ensemble Correspondances was making its American premiere at the festival and it seemed a little nervous at the start, at least its director Sébastien Daucé did. Before the concert started he spoke about substituting something on the program, which was inaudible to me and my guest, and the opening instrumental piece sounded tentative. Quickly, however, the group got over its jitters and sang persuasively, the three female voices in “Savle Regina” excelling in the tart tonality that characterizes early music. In “Miserere des Jésuites,” a powerful, resonant bass was joined by the three females and then all seven singers in a beautiful harmonization. The rapturous applause the group received allayed whatever nervousness it faced in its American premiere at its most prestigious early music festival.”

David Bonetti

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