Le Fri. 29 Mar 2024 20:00

Gdansk (Pologne) • Actus Humanus

Leçons de Ténèbres • Charpentier


The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah, contained in the Old Testament, mourn the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonians six centuries before Christ.

More than ten centuries later, they passed from Jewish liturgy to Christian tradition, taking their place in the office of Holy Week.

The “Offices of Darkness”, which set them to music, had a particularly strong influence on religious life throughout the Great Century: from the 600 convents in Paris to the abbeys in all the provinces of the kingdom, not forgetting certain parishes, the clergy took advantage of this extraordinary ceremonial to leave their mark on souls. The rite was first marked by the gradual darkness that came to conclude it, as the candles were extinguished. Gradually abandoning the austere plainsong, composers came up with sublime polyphonic works, most often performed in convents, in equal voices. Their writing produced a kind of spellbinding effect, linked primarily to the structure of the text and the fact that it was punctuated with Hebrew letters on the long vocalises.

Charpentier is the composer of this period who provided the most leçons de ténèbres. His style clearly varies according to the context: from the florid ornamentation of the Abbaye-aux-bois to the splendid gravity of the Leçons pour les Jésuites in this concert, the music is always of unprecedented depth and fervour…