LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  February 2008

CLASSICAL February 2008

Subject:

Choral Music by Young France

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 15 Feb 2008 09:11:31 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (95 lines)

The Sixteen
La Jeune France

Andre Jolivet: Epithalame
Oliver Messiaen: 5 Rechants
Jean Yves Daniel-Lesur: Le Cantique des Cantiques
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
Coro COR16023 Total time: 60:01

Summary for the Busy Executive: Long-overdue focus on two neglected
French masters.  Stunning performances.

La jeune France, a loosely-confederated group of composers in the
Thirties, consisted of Andre Jolivet, Olivier Messiaen, Jean-Yves
Daniel-Lesur, and Yves Baudrier.  Baudrier, a self-taught composer
and today the least-known member of the group, was the main force
behind its formation and its principal financial backer.  Messiaen and
Daniel-Lesur had known one another since boyhood and had taken classes
at the Conservatoire together.  Jolivet, Varese's only European pupil,
provided a wide knowledge of the European avant-garde, including the
works of Bartok, the Schoenberg circle, and even Charles Ives and Varese
himself.  In many ways, it lacked a particular direction, unlike the
theoretical unanimity of the Schoenberg group and the Stravinsky-and-Satie
aesthetic bias of Les Six.  It had formed mainly to get the composers'
scores heard.  A vague manifesto by Baudrier accompanied its concerts
and spoke of wanting less abstraction, more spirituality, and more
"humanity" in music.  Frankly, French music already had that in Honegger,
Milhaud, and Poulenc, not to mention Ravel.  As a group, it definitely
lacked some center that would make it cohere, despite the great worth
of its members' scores.  Indeed, today we tend to think of all these
men as individual composers, rather than as members of a group.

I believe all three of the works here were written with the Ensemble
vocal Marcel Couraud in mind.  It may have been the only French choral
group at the time that could have done justice to them.  They all require
a crack chorus.  Harry Christophers's Sixteen surely qualify.

Jolivet occasionally attracts the interest of some star performer and
then sinks below listener radar again.  Seeking out his works, especially
his concerti, will yield rewards.  As with the Swiss-Dutch Frank Martin,
there's a great deal of extremely good work awaiting the adventurous
listener.  Although he studied with Varese, his mature work sounds nothing
like, resembling more the Honegger of the Thirties and Forties.  Jolivet's
search for "spirituality" tended toward the primitive and the exotic.
The Epithalame, written to commemorate the Jolivets' twentieth anniversary,
combines nonsense syllables and a text on seeking a Jungian Eternal
Feminine with choral writing that, like Stravinsky's Le Sacre, strives
for an elemental power, mainly through rhythm.

Messiaen, although attracted to the primitive, also explicitly put his
spirituality in service of the Catholic Church and indeed on the group's
programs provided notes which announced his religious intent.  The Cinq
Rechants (5 refrains), like the Jolivet, set composite texts of French,
Sanskrit, and nonsense in a Surrealist mix, which has something to do
with the Tristan legend, according to the composer.  The work seems
musically modeled on, again, Le Sacre and on the Renaissance chansons
of Claude le Jeune, particularly on the sumptuous "Revecy venir du
printemps." Yet whereas the Jolivet strips his idiom to bareness,
Messiaen approaches a more orchestral range of texture.

Daniel-Lesur is certainly the least-known of the composers here. 
Indeed, this is only one of two scores by him I've ever heard, but
based on these two, I'm more than willing to take a chance on anything
else.  Undoubtedly the most conventional work on the CD, his Cantique
des Cantiques (song of songs) fully lives up to the lushness of the text.
The harmonies owe more to Debussy than to Stravinsky, and the textures
aim more openly for richness.  Still, counterpoint, not chords, is the
name of the game here, as Daniel-Lesur sets the Solomonic verses against
a Miserere (in the third section) and "Veni sponsa Christi" in the finale,
thus tying to the Christian tradition of glossing the poem's eroticism
as a metaphor for the soul's longing for Christ.  For most listeners,
this will be the most gorgeous work on the disc, and, although I hold
out for the Messiaen, I wouldn't quarrel with the choice.

As I've said, even to get through any of these works requires a
crackerjack group.  Harry Christophers's Sixteen has always been a
favorite over a wide range of repertoire, from Renaissance to Modern.
I like their characteristically lean sound, especially appropriate to
the Jolivet.  Their diction, however, could stand improvement.  With
the text in front of you, you can't always tell what they sing, although
it's not bad enough to mar rhythmic precision.  I would also have preferred
clearer textures in the Daniel-Lesur.  Even with earphones I could hear
neither the Miserere nor large parts of the "Pose moi comme un sceau sur
ton coeur" (set me as a seal upon your heart).  Nevertheless, in spite
of this, it's a staggeringly fine performance, by far the best of the
currently-available.  For hard-core choral fans, one of the albums of
the year.

Steve Schwartz

             ***********************************************
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery.  For more information,
go to:  http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager