aLate 17th century Parisian dvent and Christmas were the subject of this Les Arts Florissants concert. The concert will be conducted by William Christie and will focus on the music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier. It was a night of contrasts in many ways, given to Christie for his 78th birthday. The first half interweaves Charpentier’s austere antienne au de lavin with an instrumental noel sequence, essentially an arrangement of popular carols of the time. Later, more unevenly, a work depicting the worship of shepherds: the pastoral Sur la Naissance de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ. and a short oratorio In Nativitationm Domini Canticum.
The first half was amazingly beautiful. Antienne heralded the coming of Christ with music of reverent fervor, brilliantly sung, all beautifully controlled and shaded, with beautiful even lines for tenor and bass. Charpentier’s fourth symphony, O Clavis David, in which Charpentier adds a female voice to the mix for the first time, opens up a continuous accompaniment to envelop the strings, and suggests a new world of infinite possibilities, is a breathtaking and immediate symphony. had sex. Noels, on the other hand, played with great sensuous tone and rhythmic precision, sounding calm and graceful. I couldn’t have imagined the sequence could have been done better.
The second half is a change of mood. Shepherd and Shepherd Tyrsis and Sylvie (Nicholas Scott and Julie Rosette, both excellent) commenting on the nativity sur la naissance, at one point sarcastically discussing Joseph’s age before , before leading his fellows into worship, albeit slightly charming. Performed unconducted as chamber music, with Christie actually playing the tambourine, the masterful ensemble work failed to completely disguise the piece’s uneven timbre. In the Nativitationm Domini Canticum, a more sober examination of the same story, the Antiennes reflex is also found in the breathtaking passage that expresses the amazement of the shepherds when they first see the Christ child. Again, it is impeccably done, a sensual and detailed performance, a song unmatched in its quiet intensity.