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In France, during the reign of Louis XIV, the religious service known as Tenebrae was one of the most distinctive ceremonies in the liturgical year. Gradually, in the course of the office, the candles were extinguished, recalling the darkness that covered the earth when Jesus died on the cross.
Charpentier composed Tenebrae settings throughout his career, thirty-one lessons in all. The three presented here, written for the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Holy Week, are scored for a solo bass voice, accompanied by an orchestra composed of recorders, oboes, strings, bassoon and organ. After the success of Vivaldi’s Concerti per il flauto traversier (Gramophone Editor’s Choice), flautist and conductor Alexis Kossenko, rising star of the younger generation of Baroque musicians, and the fine ensemble Arte Dei Suonatori present a new vision of this highly dramatic work by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.