Notes and Editorial Reviews
MUSICA SACRA: BUDDHIST SHÕMYÕ AND GREGORIAN CHANTS
Saikawa Buntai, cond; David Eben, cond; Schola Gregoriana Pragensis; Gjosan-rjú Tendai Sómjó Buddhist Monks from Japan
K&K VERLAGSANSTALT 48 (73:22) Live: Maulbronn, Germany 6/20/2008
Since chanting-monk CDs are all the rage nowadays, K&K Verlagsanstalt decided to issue this disc of a special concert given at the Maulbronn Monastery in 2008. This concert, sponsored by UNESCO, combined the music of Tendai Buddhist monks from Japan with the Schola
Gregoriana Pragensis choir, founded in 1987 in what is now the Czech Republic. The aim was to have the religious chants and hymns of both religions complement each other and create a multi-religious ambience redoubled in effect by the atmosphere of the surroundings.
The experiment works very well indeed. Initially, the two choirs alternate their chants, the Westerners more formal in structure, the Easterners more fluid in theirs. It was interesting for me to hear Japanese monks as compared to Tibetans who are much more familiar here in the U.S. The Japanese monks all chant in a higher pitch, more in the tenor range, although some of their members are capable, as are Tibetans, of “chording” with the voice from time to time. As for Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, they are quite simply a beautiful-sounding group with great feeling in their singing.
As the concert progresses, both choirs begin combining their religious chants to fascinating effect. Despite the musical and cultural differences, everything blends surprisingly well. After the final gong is struck, there is a moment of silence and then there is applause. One almost feels a bit embarrassed about this…how, or why, do you applaud religious singing? Even more surprisingly, after the applause there is an encore. Perhaps the audience in attendance was more secular and less religious, there for the experience rather than for religious enlightenment.
Nevertheless, this is an excellent recording in every respect and in its own way more universal than many such “chant” CDs out there. In the spirit of the music presented, I feel a little odd recommending the disc, but as you can probably tell I was very moved by these performances.
FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
Works on This Recording
Litanie by Anonymous
Schola Gregoriana Pragensis,
Gjosan-rjú Tendai Sómjó Buddhist Monks
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs.
Oratio Ieremiae by Anonymous
Length: 4 Minutes 17 Secs.
O virgo splendens by Anonymous
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs.
Choral by Traditional
Length: 2 Minutes 50 Secs.
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