February 27, 2012

Lenten Music: Lamentations

Yesterday, my friend P asked me for music recommendations for Lent, so I will be doing a few themed posts on sacred music, starting with the most Lenten recording I know: The Boston Camerata's solemn and inspired recording of several Provencal settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. These pieces date from the 1450s through the 1700s--the earliest being a traditional Provencal chant of Psalm 68, and the latest a work from the composer of the Cathedral in Tolouse, Jean Gilles. According to a french review, in 1995, after it was first released, this is an emblematic expression of Southern France's mysticism.  I don't know if that is true.  I do know, however, that this is a still, solemn recording--but not staid or lifeless.  Quite the contrary: listening to it with attention is to retreat from the world for a time, into a life of prayer.

There are only three copies of the album left on Amazon, but you can also download the mp3. You can also purchase directly from The Boston Camerata's website.

I highly recommend all of The Boston Camerata's recordings, especially their American shape-note recordings, which are the best expressed recordings of our native sacred music, sadly unknown to most Christians in the US. But I'll save those thoughts for next week.

Painting: Jeremiah by Marc Chagall

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