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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: 12 minutes 11 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)

Le reniement de St Pierre
First line:
Cum caenasset Jesus et dedisset discipulis
author of text
compiled from the four Gospels

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The motet Le reniement de St Pierre is a dramatic account of Peter’s denial of Christ, its text skilfully incorporating material from accounts of the Passion in all four Gospels. Sébastien de Brossard, composer, theorist and bibliophile, described it as ‘an oratorio in the Italian style’. Charpentier’s forces are relatively modest, involving only voices and continuo. Nevertheless, he takes every opportunity to intensify the text. Just before the cock crows, for instance, there is a quartet in which Peter vehemently denies knowing Jesus. Charpentier’s agitated music perfectly captures both Peter’s adamance and the persistent questions and accusations of the other three characters. Perhaps the most memorable passage in the work, though, is the final section. Over thirty bars long, this is built entirely on a setting of the words ‘flevit amare’ (‘wept bitterly’). Here the vocal lines weave a dense web of counterpoint, full of suspensions and other expressive dissonances. This powerful evocation of Peter’s remorse is reminiscent of the final chorus of lament in Carissimi’s Jephte; Charpentier clearly knew this work very well, since he himself made a copy of his teacher’s masterpiece.

from notes by Shirley Thompson © 2004

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