Couperin Trois Leçons de Ténèbres
Wigmore Hall, 4 March 2011

“An even­ing of top-class musicianship”
It was a rare pleasure, then, to find three of Couperin’s deeply evocative sacred works introduced by the masterful compact forces of The King’s Consort in the Wigmore Hall, London. The two solo lines (the soprano Carolyn Sampson and the Norwegian mezzo Marianne Beate Kielland) were beautifully balanced, urging one another along in eager canon or deft imitation…. King’s finely judged handling… drew some of the most exquisitely touch­ing singing and playing, in an even­ing of top-class musicianship
Roderic Dunnett, The Church Times

“A dazzling display of brilliance and elegant music-making”
Just five performers occupied the stage all evening: soprano Carolyn Sampson, mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland, Susanne Heinrich on bass viol, Lynda Sayce on theorbo, and Robert King on chamber organ. Between them, they served up a dazzling display of brilliance and elegant music-making, with the two singers on outstanding form. After the interval came the high-point of the programme: Couperin’s Trois Leçons de Ténèbres, devotional music written for the Tenebrae service on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week. Sampson and Kielland took the first and second Leçon, respectively, before reuniting for the two-voice third… Kielland’s warm, full, immediate sound, which moved in an instant from achingly quiet and tender to grippingly dramatic – was the perfect foil for the silken threads spun by Sampson – not just smooth and effortless, but seductive, even (who could resist the utterly beguiling opening phrase of the first Leçon, ‘Incipit lamentatio Jeremiae prophetae’?). And when the two voices combined, what bliss: the grief of their ‘O vos omnes’ (‘All ye who pass by’) pierced us through as was the Virgin Mary, into whose mouth those words were later transposed. I was delighted to learn that this same team will be recording the Leçons – I can scarcely imagine how their Wigmore performance could be bettered – and I’ll certainly be snapping up the CD as soon as it comes out.
Adrian Horsewood, MusicOMH
Rating: * * * * *