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Mass For Christmas Day / Ensemble Organum

Ensemble Organum
Release Date: 01/11/2011 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 1951148   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe BalloyJosep BenetGérard LesneJosep Cabré
Conductor:  Marcel Pérès
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Organum
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is a welcome addition to the growing number of chant recordings illustrating various repertoires and styles of performance over the centuries. It is not the first time that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century organ chant alternatim has been recorded, but there cannot be many discs with a programme of pieces drawn from the old rite of Paris; a splendid rite destined, sadly, to disappear at the end of the nineteenth century. There are even fewer, if any, in which organ improvisation alternates with the chant, as is the case here, and since this form of performance would have been the norm during this period in the majority of cathedrals and churches—even in convent chapels — it is of the greatest interest to hear how it might have Read more sounded to seventeenth- and eighteenth century ears.

To my ears it all seems to tie up extremely well: the utterly splendid Parisian chant, quite different from its Roman counterpart, provides the pieces of the Proper for Christmas Day. These are sung with appropriate ornamentation — only in two pieces, the Alleluia and the Sequence, does Peres find the temptation to introduce his customary Eastern effects too strong to resist. As for the Ordinary, Campra's magnificently tuneful `neo-Gallican' plainchant provides the organist with the material on which to base his improvisations, and the choir a chance to prove that a slow, dignified tempo will match up to the noble versets on the eighteenth century Cliquot organ at Houdan far better than those hurried snatches of chant one so often hears. Peres makes this point extremely well, and I would recommend the recording for that reason alone.

However, there is more: the introduction of the trebles (Les Pages de la Chapelle) was an inspired stroke, especially for a Mass of Christmas. They sing with strong, confident young voices, and have no fear of sustaining long phrases of slow notes, nor of adding some conventional ornamentation of the period.

Gramophone [1/1996]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass for Christmas Day by Anonymous
Performer:  Philippe Balloy (Baritone), Josep Benet (Tenor), Gérard Lesne (Countertenor),
Josep Cabré (Baritone)
Conductor:  Marcel Pérès
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Organum
Period: Medieval 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/1984 
Length: 50 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is sung in Classical Greek and Latin.  

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