13th May 2006 ~ St. Barnabus Church

Saturday, 13th May 2006, 8pm
St Barnabas Church , Cardigan Street, Jericho, Oxford

Fauré Requiem
Vierne Messe Solennelle
Fauré Cantique de Jean Racine
Duruflé Tota Pulchra Es, Notre Père

Tom Edwards baritone
Otta Jones treble
Head Chorister, Choir of New College, Oxford

Julian Littlewood organ

Concert Recording

Below are some of the highlights of the recording made of the concert.

  MP3 audio file MP3 Audio
Vierne Messe Solennelle: Benedictus
Chorus with organ accompaniment
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Fauré Requiem: Offertorium
Chorus and Baritone soloist Tom Edwards

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Duruflé Notre Père
Unaccompanied chorus
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Fauré Requiem: Pie Jesu
Treble soloist Otta Jones
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Programme Notes

Fauré (1845-1924), Vierne (1870-1937) and Duruflé (1902-1986) are among the most prominent in a line of 19th and 20th French composers and organists which began with César Franck (1822-1890). All three of them passed through the Paris Conservatoire, as pupil and teacher or professor (Vierne and Duruflé), or as teacher and director (Fauré). Duruflé was deputy to Vierne as organist at the cathedral of Nôtre Dame.

Gabriel Fauré, born in 1845, began his musical schooling in 1854 at the École Niedermeyer in Paris. On leaving here in 1865 he took up a succession of posts as organist. He joined the staff of the Paris Conservatoire as teacher of composition (one of his pupils was Ravel) and in 1905 was appointed its director, a post he held until 1920. The last years of his life until his death in 1924 were marked by growing deafness and failing health.
During his early years in Paris Fauré was little recognised in musical circles, but from the 1890s his growing reputation as organist and composer came to be publicly recognised, and he was acclaimed in the grand salons of Paris and other cities in Europe, including London. His chamber music covered a wide range of works for piano and strings, and his three collections of songs, published in 1879, 1897 and 1908, have led to him being described as 'the greatest master of French song'. His other writing included sacred music and small-scale operatic and orchestral works, but it is the Requiem which, little noticed when first performed in Paris in 1888, is his best-loved work in the popular repertoire.

Louis Vierne, born in 1870, suffered from bad eye-sight, poor health, and financial problems for most of his life. In early 1890 he entered the Paris Conservatoire to study the organ under César Franck, and in 1894 won first prize in a competition and was taken onto the teaching staff. In 1900 he was appointed organist at Notre Dame, a post which he held with distinction and renown until his death in 1937. But in spite of wide-spread recognition of his outstanding technique as an organist, he was twice passed over for appointment as professor of organ at the Conservatoire.
Between 1898 and 1930 Vierne wrote six symphonies for organ which are regarded as the pinnacle of 20th century organ music, high in the organist's repertoire. He was also a master of smaller musical forms: piano sonatas, works for solo organ including a group of 24 songs without words, and more than 60 songs for the voice, but only a few choral works of which the Messe Solennelle is the most important.

Maurice Duruflé, born in 1902, received his early musical training in the tradition of choral plainsong at the Rouen choir school. In 1920 he went on to the Paris Conservatoire, where he won five first prizes (in organ, harmony, accompaniment, fugue and composition), and where one of his teachers was Vierne. From 1927 he was Vierne's deputy as organist at Nôtre Dame, and in 1930 he moved to St Etienne-du-Mont, another Paris church, where he stayed as organist until his death in 1986. He toured widely in Europe and America, and from 1943 to 1970 he was professor of harmony at the Paris Conservatoire.
Though not a prolific composer, Durufle's was a distinctive voice in the French 20th century repertoire as an exponent of plainsong and, following Vierne and others, in the use of modal harmonies and polyphonic structures. His first published work came out in 1924, and his Requiem, written in 1947, like Vierne's stands alongside Fauré's in musical importance if not in concert popularity.

Vierne: Messe Solennelle
Vierne wrote the Messe Solennelle in 1900, the year in which Fauré published the full orchestral score of his Requiem. It is scored for chorus and organ and has five movements, omitting the Credo:
Kyrie Sanctus Agnus Dei
Gloria Benedictus

It is a work of considerable power. Solennelle is a fitting title and Vierne's musical directions are maestoso and risoluto. He makes extensive use of the semitones of the 12 note chromatic scale, producing dissonances and modulations into related keys which now seem deceptively easy to the ear, but in 1900 must have been remarkable if not outrageous. This is especially marked in the Kyrie and Gloria, in which great blocks of sound, particularly suited to the organ, contrast with quiet melodic phrases sung by one part on its own. The last two movements are more reflective, though the resounding Hosannas of the Sanctus are repeated in the Benedictus, and the work ends with the closing bars of the Agnus Dei moving confidently into the major key.

Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine
Shortly before he left École Niedermeyer in 1865 Fauré won first prize in the school competition for musical composition with this piece, a setting of a hymn translated by the French poet and dramatist Jean Racine (1639-1699) from the Latin of the Roman Breviary (the daily order of service). It is a simple meditative piece offering a foretaste of the calm and peace of the Requiem on which he started work 12 years later.

Duruflé: Tota Pulchra Es
In 1960 Duruflé published four short motets based on plainsong Gregorian chant. Three of these are written for full four-part mixed choir and the fourth, Tota Pulchra Es, for three-part choir of women's voices only. Each part follows its own plainsong line with no hint of a fugal structure, and all three lines are woven together into one harmonious whole.

Fauré: Requiem
Introit and Kyrie Pie Jesu In Paradisum
Offertorium Agnus Dei
Sanctus Libera me

Fauré started work on the Requiem in 1877, not specifically for any person or occasion, but 'for the pleasure of it'. Its first performance was not given until 1888, and this first version, scored for organ and small chamber orchestra, had only five movements. Two more movements, the Offertorium and the Libera me, were added for a performance in 1893, and it was not until 1900 that Fauré completed the full orchestral version for the first concert performance. The original organ part provides a full accompaniment, to which the score for chamber orchestra provides no additional material, and tonight we use no orchestra. The Pie Jesu is sung solo by the soprano and the baritone joins the chorus in the Offertorium and Libera me.
This Requiem is a reflective and gentle work, making no reference to the stern and judgemental aspects of the conventional Requiem Mass, apart from a few bars in the Libera me which have the text of the Dies irae but are hardly dark and foreboding. It conveys Fauré's view of death as 'a joyful deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness beyond the grave', fully expressed in the calmness of the In Paradisum.

Duruflé: Nôtre Père
After the peaceful close to the Requiem, the evening's programme comes quietly to an end with a simple setting by Duruflé of the Lord's Prayer, sung in French.

Clive Williams


Translation of Latin and French Texts

Sections to be sung by the choir are in bold.

I INTROIT – KYRIE - choir

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine:
Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord,

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
And may light everlasting shine upon them.

Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion :
A hymn should be sung unto Thee, O God in Sion:

Et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem;
And unto Thee shall a vow be made in Jerusalem;

Exaudi, exaudi orationem meam,
Hear, oh hear my prayer,

Ad te omnis caro veniet.
Unto Thee all flesh shall come.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

II OFFERTORIUM – choir + baritone solo

O Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae,
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,

Libera animas defunctorum
Deliver the souls of the departed

De poenis inferni, et de profundo lacu :
From the torments of Hell and from the deep abyss:

O Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae,
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,

Libera animas defunctorum
Deliver the souls of the departed

De ore leonis, ne absorbeat tartarus :
From the jaws of the lion lest Hell swallow them up:

O Domine Jesu Christe, rex gloriae,
Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,

Ne cadant in obscurum.
Lest they fall into darkness.

Hostias et preces tibi Domine laudis offerimus;
Sacrifices and prayers of praise we offer unto Thee, Lord;

Tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
Receive them for the sake of their souls

Quarum hodie memoriam facimus:
Whom we commemorate today:

Fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam,
Grant them, Lord, from death to pass into life,

Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini ejus.
As once Thou didst promise to Abraham and to his seed.

III SANCTUS - chorus

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Sabaoth.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts.

Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
The heavens and earth are filled with thy glory.

Hosanna in excelsis. Sanctus.
Hosanna in the highest. Holy.

IV PIE JESU – soprano solo

Pie Jesu Domine,
Holy Lord Jesus,

Dona eis requiem, sempiternam requiem.
Grant unto them rest, eternal rest.

V AGNUS DEI - chorus

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi,
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,

Dona eis requiem, sempiternam requiem.
Grant unto them rest, eternal rest,

Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine,
May everlasting light shine upon them, Lord,

Cum sanctis tuis in aeternum,
Together with your saints throughout eternity,

Quia pius es.
For thou art good and merciful.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine:
Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord :

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
And may everlasting light shine upon them.

VI LIBERA ME – baritone solo + choir

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna,
Deliver me, Lord, from eternal death,

In die illa tremenda, in die illa:
On that terrible day, on that day:

Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra:
When the heavens shall move and the earth

Dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
As thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.

Tremens factus sum ego, et timens,
I am made trembling and fearful,

Et timeo dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.
And I fear as the sifting comes upon us, and the wrath to come.

Dies illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae,
That day, the day of wrath, calamity and wretchedness,

Dies illa, dies magna et amara valde.
That day, the great day, and truly bitter.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine,
Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord,

Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
And may light everlasting shine upon them.

VII IN PARADISUM - choir

In Paradisum deducant Angeli :
Into Paradise may the Angels lead you :

In tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres,
On thy arrival may the martyrs receive thee,

Et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.
And bring thee to the holy city of Jerusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat,
May the choir of Angels receive thee,

Et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
And with Lazarus, once a poor man,

Aeternam habeas requiem.
May thou have eternal rest.


MAURICE DURUFLÉ : MOTET “TOTA PULCHRA ES”
– sung by sopranos and altos

Duruflé set the Latin words of an ancient motet, traditionally sung in the Catholic Church to celebrate the Feast of the Conception of the Virgin (in December).

Tota pulchra es, Maria,
Thou art all fair, Mary,

Et macula originalis non est in te,
And original sin is not upon thee,

Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix,
Thy clothing is as pure as snow,

Et facies tua sicut sol.
And thy face shines as the sun.

Tota pulchra es, Maria,
Thou art all fair, Mary,

Et macula originalis non est in te,
And original sin is not upon thee,

Tu gloria Jerusalem,
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem,

Tu laetitia Israel,
Thou art the delight of Israel,

Tu honorificentia populi nostri,
Thou art worthy of the respect of our people,

Tota pulchra es, Maria.
Thou art all fair, Mary.

GABRIEL FAURÉ – CANTIQUE DE JEAN RACINE - choir

In 1866, at the age of twenty, Fauré composed this setting of a canticle, for the occasion of the blessing of the organ at the Church of Saint-Sauveur in Rennes (where he was then organist). The words were a translation from a Latin original into French by the great poet and playwright Jean Racine, who had published them in 1687 as part of his version of the Latin Breviary. Interestingly, Fauré set only the first three of the four verses of Racine’s lyrical rendering of this canticle for Tuesday Matins.

Verbe égal au Très-Haut,
O Word equal to the Almighty,

Notre unique espérance,
Our one hope,

Jour éternel de la terre et des cieux,
Eternal light of earth and of the heavens,

De la paisible nuit,
This peaceful night’s

Nous rompons le silence, Divin Sauveur.
Silence we break, Divine Saviour,

Jette sur nous tes yeux, Divin Sauveur,
Cast your eyes upon us, Divine Saviour,

Répands sur nous le feu de ta grâce puissante.
Bestow upon us the fire of thy powerful grace.

Que tout l’enfer fuie au son de ta voix,
May all Hell flee at the sound of thy voice,

Dissipe le sommeil d’une âme languissante
Dispel the slumbers of a tardy soul,

Qui la conduit à l’oubli de tes lois.
Which leads it to forget thy laws.

O Christ, sois favorable à ce peuple fidèle
O Christ, show favour to this faithful people

Pour te bénir maintenant rassemblé.
To bless Thee now gathered together.

Reçois les chants qu’il offre,
Accept the hymns they offer

A ta gloire immortelle,
To thy immortal glory,

Et de tes dons qu‘il retourne comblé.
And may they return blessed beyond measure with thy gifts.

Translated by Valerie Worth / February 2006