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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67435
Recording details: February 2003
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2004
Total duration: 16 minutes 24 seconds

'Jeffrey Skidmore and his ensemble's expertise has long been established and is everywhere apparent here. The blend of the vocal line is superb and the handling of ornament is little short of breathtaking. In short, an issue to treasure' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Skidmore once again demonstrates his total empathy with French Baroque repertoire, inspiring his large choral forces to performances that capture a huge gamut of emotions ranging from thrilling grandeur to heartbreaking sublimity. The issue is a magnificent achievement all round' (Fanfare, USA)

'Ex Cathedra's choirs and soloists sound ravishing … Skidmore's conducting results in a performance containing breadth and relaxed phrasing, which in turn allow emotion to shine through the complex polyphony' (Goldberg)

'The brilliance of this work is expertly captured by Ex Cathedra directed by Jeffrey Skidmore. The choral sound is excellent, whether in the well-managed polychoral exchanges or in the full passages, and the solo singing is very accomplished' (Early Music)

Salut de la veille des 'O'
composer
? early 1690s
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Settings of the exclamation ‘O’ are a prominent feature of Salut de la veille des ‘O’. In a tradition dating back to eighth-century France, these seven antiphons would have been performed before and after the Magnificat at Vespers during the week before Christmas. In Charpentier’s cycle, probably dating from the early 1690s, these are preceded by a setting of ‘O salutaris hostia’. The texts of the seven antiphons implore God to come to earth and save his people. The first letter of each word following the ‘O’ form a reverse acrostic, spelling ERO CRAS (‘I will be tomorrow’), a response from God to his Church’s prayers. Four of the antiphons (and ‘O salutaris’) are scored for an ensemble of haute-contre (high tenor), tenor and bass voices and continuo. The sixth ‘O’ is scored for a solo haute-contre, two obbligato violins and continuo. Interestingly, Charpentier labels the vocal line ‘Mr Chopelet’, a singer known to be associated with the Paris Opéra. Given that Opéra singers regularly sang at the Jesuit church of Saint-Louis, where Charpentier was employed between 1688 and 1698, this annotation strengthens the possibility that the Jesuits commissioned this set of pieces. The two remaining antiphons (four and five) are scored for a four-part choir and orchestra. These both make use of expressive harmonies at the text ‘sedentem / sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis’ (‘sitting / who sit in the darkness and in shadow of death’).

from notes by Shirley Thompson © 2004

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