Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

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SHOWING PACES

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'... the oratorio performances can only give pleasure.'

Charpentier's dramatic strengths -
with ROBERT ANDERSON

 

Charpentier Oratorios. Copyright (c) 2000 harmonia mundi.

Cecilia became patroness of music through a misunderstanding. Legend had her vowing perpetual virginity while an organ played during her unwelcome wedding. Having made Christians of her husband and his brother, she secured martyrdom for them all and was mistakenly thought to have made her vow while performing at the organ herself. The Latin text Charpentier set omits the more lurid details of the martyrdom, but manages drama enough in the conversion of the brothers, and the hounding by the tyrant Almachus of the future saint. The brief oratorio was written by Charpentier about 1675, early in his employment by the Duchess of Guise, the last but most musically ambitious of her line. Charpentier shows his paces impressively enough, with appropriate wrath when Almachus threatens Cecilia with a fiery furnace [listen - track 1, 14:30-15:35]. Cecilia replies that the flames will provide her only cool refreshment. Her obstinacy ensures ultimate death, which gives Charpentier opportunity for the expressive harmonies and sighing silences he had learnt from Carissimi [listen - track 1, 17:13-18:30]. The work involves the four main characters, a couple of angels, narrator, and chorus of the faithful.

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Copyright © 3 September 2000 Robert Anderson, London, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - HARMONIA MUNDI HMA 190066

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