CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Briefly Noted: Triduum at Notre-Dame (CD of the Month)

available at Amazon
Pâques à Notre-Dame, Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris, Yves Castagnet, Henri Chalet

(released on April 1, 2022)
Warner 190296396892 | 63'45"
On April 15, 2019, fire destroyed the spire and vault of the most beloved Gothic church in the world, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. This new release from Warner Classics is devoted to the last polyphonic works to be performed in the cathedral before the fire, which occurred in the days leading up to Easter. The children and adults of the Maîtrise Notre-Dame de Paris, under conductor Henri Chalet, recorded this program in the neo-Gothic Basilica of Sainte-Clotilde.

Since the fire, the Maîtrise has continued its liturgical service at the older Église Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois. A training choir for young voices, from children up to age 30, they perform at the highest professional level. Various combinations of the group's voices sing music that was prepared for the feasts of the Triduum, from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Yves Castagnet accompanies many of the pieces on Sainte-Clotilde's venerable Cavaillé-Coll organ, once played by César Franck, Gabriel Pierné, Charles Tournemire, and Jean Langlais, to name just the most famous of the church's celebrated organists.

About half of the disc consists of music performed on these sacred days by choirs around the world, including two of Maurice Duruflé's celebrated Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, proper to Holy Thursday and sung with gorgeous subtlety. Antonio Lotti's complex Crucifixus for eight voices, proper to Good Friday, revels in its massive pile-up of dissonant suspensions, balanced by the joy of Jehan Revert's metrical arrangements of the beloved Easter tune O filii et filiae and the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes. The concise Missa Octo vocum by Hans Leo Hassler goes nicely with a motet by Monteverdi and Dextera domini, César Franck's gentle, pastoral offertory proper to Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil.

Quite pleasingly, the disc also features recent liturgical music composed by three living French composers. Two hymns on French texts and the intriguing Messe brève showcase the compelling style of Yves Castagnet (b. 1964), titulaire of the orgue de chœur at Notre-Dame, where he regularly accompanied Vespers. (From 2010 to 2013, Castagnet published seven books of his Heures de Notre-Dame, bringing together the music he oversaw for Vespers at the cathedral.) Jean-Charles Gandrille (b. 1982) is represented by a simple, rather hypnotic setting of the Marian sequence Stabat Mater for organ and treble voices, which cranks up in intensity towards its ecstatic conclusion. There is also a striking new piece by Lise Borel (b. 1993), one of the choir's assistant directors and a rather interesting composer. Her Regina caeli, for seven women's voices accompanying themselves with murmuring repetions of "regina regina," can be heard in the video embedded below.

No comments: