François Couperin's 'Leçons de Ténèbres' (c. 1713-17), a setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, fused devotional expression with a dramatic performing style embodied here by sopranos Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts. Two Trio Sonatas and a 'Stabat Mater' by Sébastien de Brossard round out this luminous programme. La Nuova Musica was founded by its artistic director David Bates in 2007 whilst in residency at Snape Maltings and was hailed by BBC Radio 3 as one of the most exciting consorts in the early music field . They are regular contributors at Aldeburgh Music, St John s Smith Square, London Handel Festival, Wigmore Hall and Spitalfields Music. Highlights of 2015 were a performance of 'Acis and Galatea' at SJSS which received a 5* review in The Times, describing it as a reading that sparkled from the giddy overture to the consoling final chorus followed by a concert performance of Cesti s 'Orontea', where Bates conducting had superb poise, and the cast was impeccable, with not a weak link anywhere (The Guardian). In 2016 LNM will also record Pergolesi's 'Stabat Mater' and Bach Cantatas with Lucy Crowe and Tim Mead. Concert performance highlights for 2016 include Handel s 'Berenice' at the Göttingen Internationale Händel Festspiele; their debut at the Salzburg Festival with Bejun Mehta; and an exciting collaboration with American choreographer Zack Winokur on Purcell s 'Dido and Aeneas' at the Brighton International Festival, with Dame Ann Murray singing the title role.
'Having two soloists of the calibre of Lucy Crowe and Elizabeth Watts ensures that the vocal line positively gleams, and there is a beautifully limpid quality throughout. They are flexible yet also a little fragile, well suited to the pleading nature of the text. They are, more importantly, totally inside the conventions of the French Baroque, and their adoption of Gallicised Latin pronunciation adds to the air of authenticity ... Brossard s Trio Sonatas provide some earnest instrumental variety. They're beautifully played, and the thin string tone adds a plangent air to what you find in the more explicitly penitential vocal music. His Stabat Mater plunges us into an altogether more dramatic landscape of austere emotion with much less intimacy than the Couperin. The choral moments are wonderfully atmospheric and also very distinctively French in style. The tenor soloist is particularly marvellous, especially in the Eja mater section. This is interesting and less familiar repertoire which, in performances like these, deserves to find a wide audience.' Simon Thompson - MusicWeb International, January 2017 ---------------------GRAMOPHONE CRITIC S CHOICE 2016 'Most enticing about La Nuova Musica is the sense that their performances are born of a marriage of equals music-making as collaboration not dictatorship. With this recording it results in a perfect balance of a surprising by clever combination of voices, dramatic but pure delivery, and a simple but musically substantial programme.' Caroline Gill Gramophone, December 2016 ------------------------------ 'Two of the UK s finest early music voices divvy up Les Leçons de Ténèbres outrageously sensual liturgical lamentations written by François Couperin for Holy Week in 1714. In the first lesson, Lucy Crowe is ecstatic and golden, ravishing in her upper flourishes and the way she pushes and lingers on those achy-sweet dissonances. In the second lesson, Elizabeth Watts is grainier, softer-edged, earthier. When they sing together in the third lesson, the combination is breathtaking. Instrumental playing from La Nuova Musica under conductor David Bates is delicate and much more deadpan, providing a semblance of chasteness. A major bonus is the deft and elegant violin playing of Bojan i i in two sonatas by Sébastien de Brossard. (Brossard was a French composer a few decades older than Couperin and, incidentally, authored the first musical dictionary). The disc ends with succulent choral singing in Brossard s Stabat Mater.' --Kate Molleson The Guardian, 8th September 2016
La Nuova Musica, directed by David Bates, give a dramatic, well-paced performance that shows Brossard s slender if learned talent to best effect. Unlike Schneebeli, who employed boy sopranos and Old French pronunciation of the Latin texts, Bates produces a more modern, full-bodied sound, and it is the grands choeurs rather than the petits choeurs that most impress. To add to our impression of Brossard, the first recorded performance is included of his unpublished E minor Trio Sonata, which clearly reflects Brossard s knowledge and command of the instrumental styles of Corelli and his Italian predecessors and provides another interesting parallel with Couperin, who was composing sonades at much the same time. --Julie Anne Sadie Gramophone, October 2016
'The results are magical, Crowe and Watts sing with great style but with a nice contrast in approach. Crowe is plangent and coolly elegant, whereas Watts brings more warm passion, though both execute the music with superb period style. And needless to say, the final Lecon with both of them is pure magic ... Brossard's Italianate trio sonatas make finely elegant punctuation points, and Bates rounds off the disc with a passionate and stylish account of Brossard's Stabat Mater. Performed by the choir of La Nuova Musica, this is again a large scale interpretation of the work, sung with gusto and elan but some might prefer the smaller vocal ensemble approach.' --Robert Hugill - Planet Hugill, 19th October 2016