Friday, October 19, 2007

New music with a Benedictine habit


My love of Gregorian Chant started years back when I first stayed in L'Abbaye Sainte Madeleine at Le Barroux in France and heard the Benedictine monks singing the Holy Offices according to the scholarship of Solesmes. Once you've heard plainsong at 3.30 in the morning during Matins you never forget it! The two photos here were taken by me a few weeks ago when I visited the monastery again.

On this Sunday's Overgrown Path programme on Future Radio I will be playing a twentieth century Requiem which is closely based on the Gregorian original. Composers from Victoria to Ligeti have set the Requiem Mass, but the non-restored Gregorian funeral chants of the Roman Rite are rarely heard. To rectify this I am starting my programme with the Introit, Kyrie, Dies Irae, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Gregorian Mass for the Departed sung by the monks of l'Abbaye de Fontgombault in central France.

The recording I am playing is on the invaluable Art & Musique label. Unfortunately, their CDs are very difficult to find outside France. My copy was bought in the wonderful Abbey shop at Le Barroux the day I took the photographs here. You can buy the recording online from the shop. This is my sort of CD - the sleeve notes say the following: 'The recording sessions took place in the 12th century abbey church of Fontgombault on the cold and windy days of March 12-14 2001. One can hear a little of the windstorm in the background.'

Maurice Duruflé wrote his Requiem Op. 9 in 1947 for full orchestra and organ, and it is is closely modelled on the Gregorian original. In 1961 Duruflé made a revised version for reduced orchestra and organ, and it is this version I will be playing to give continuity from the austerity of the opening plainchant. In fact the transition from the plainsong to the Duruflé is so seamless the linking announcement almost seems an intrusion.

The programme will be broadcast at 5.00pm UK time on Sunday 21 October. Listen online in realtime only via this link. And after that windstorm in Fongombault it must be raindrops falling on my chant.


Listen to the Future Radio audio stream here. Convert Overgrown Path radio on-air times to your local time zone using this link. Windows Media Player doesn't like the audio stream very much and takes ages to buffer. WinAmp or iTunes handle it best. Unfortunately the royalty license doesn't permit on-demand replay, so you have to listen in real time. If you are in the Norwich, UK area tune to 96.9FM.

All photos (c) On An Overgrown Path 2007. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

2 comments:

Jafe said...

I, too, am a huge fan of the recordings of the Monastic Choir of Fontgombault. Isn't is amazing that this music, of such profound beauty, has been largely replaced by banal guitar hymns in the modern-day Catholic Mass and ceremonies?

Dennis said...

As the August Dessus once said to the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris (as reported in Robert Baldick's biography of J. K. Huysmans, p.411): "Your Eminence, extra Gregorianum nulla salus!"