Solesmes' He Was Placed in the Tomb contains the Gregorian Office for Holy (or "Great") Saturday, the evening service that observes the time Christ spent in the bonds of death; it is signified by the lighting of the candle of Paschali. The ancient Christian church recognized this as a time for fasting, and some churches still observe this practice on Holy Saturday -- it is a somber and serious service, though not without some element of anticipation of the joy to come when Easter arrives. This performance of the Office is by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter's Abbey in Solesmes, presumably from their own edition, which has been the Vatican standard since 1903. Recorded in 1996, this is one of the very last recordings of the Solesmes Choir as led by its longtime director, the late Dom Jean Claire, who retired shortly thereafter. The choir is in excellent voice; the pacing of the chant is as it should be and the acoustic in the Abbey Church at Solesmes is warm and bathes the voices in a benevolent ambience.
This office consists of four Nocturnes, Lauds, and Vespers, with the pieces toward the ends of the Nocturnes being the most captivating within the office, particularly the Mode 4 and 5 Responsory at the end of the first Nocturne and the breathtakingly beautiful Responsories in Modes 8 and 4 that conclude the Second Nocturne. Normally the office as a whole ends with the Alleluia, sung at Sunrise on Easter morning -- the first time this piece is heard in the church since the beginning of Lent. Obviously, this is the start of the Easter service, so to keep the liturgical context intact, Claire opts to conclude with the Responsory Christus resurgens in Mode 2, not typically used for this purpose but reflecting a practice in the Greek Orthodox church.
As a representation of the Holy Saturday service in Gregorian terms, this is about as liturgically accurate, and as well performed, as it gets. Outside of its purely religious context, Solesmes' He Was Placed In The Tomb would be an excellent disc to accompany late-night reading or other nocturnal, quiet activities -- its feeling of sobriety and loneliness is certainly well suited to that.