<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson SHOWING PACES
The Prodigal Son was probably written for the Jesuit church of
St Louis in Paris about 1680. The story could not be simpler or better known.
The anonymous author of the text follows Luke 15 closely, and Charpentier
makes the most of the younger brother's despair after wasting all his
substance [listen - track 2, 2:57-3:55]. In this
oratorio three different singers are deployed as narrator, but the most
moving moment is the father's tender greeting at the return of the
errant son [listen - track 2, 11:29-12:59]. Part
I ends with a paean of choral delight and instrumental virtuosity that the
lost sheep has returned. The second part deals with the complaints of the
elder brother, complaints that overstay their welcome after the festivities
that have gone before. The faithful manage appropriate sentiments to conclude
the work, but the elder brother's fraternal rapture hardly rings true.
Only Latin and French texts appear for the three works. It is a relief that
the Latin sung in the oratorios diverges considerably from what is printed.
There are howlers enough to have excited mirth some time ago from even a
Copyright © 3 September 2000
Robert Anderson, London, UK
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