Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Saint Saens Messe A Quatre Voix


Guest Roffensis
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest Roffensis

Anyone who has not heard the Saint Saens "Messe a Quatre Voix" should hear it. Donald Hunt made a recording of it in 1978 with Worcester Cathedral Choir and Roy Massey playing organ, and it is stunning. One wonders how such a work can be so little performed. A lot can be blamed on Vatican II. Pierre Lauwers knows a site that actually has the Saint Saens on, from Worcester. I managed to find a copy finally in London this year. As often is the case, it's deleted. If Pierre can oblige with the links, then I urge anyone to hear this work and this performance. The organ part is glorious, and the choir top notch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone who has not heard the Saint Saens "Messe a Quatre Voix" should hear it. Donald Hunt made a recording of it in 1978 with Worcester Cathedral Choir and Roy Massey playing organ, and it is stunning. One wonders how such a work can be so little performed. A lot can be blamed on Vatican II.  Pierre Lauwers knows a site that actually has the Saint Saens on, from Worcester. I managed to find a copy finally in London this year. As often is the case, it's deleted. If Pierre can oblige with the links, then I urge anyone to hear this work and this performance. The organ part is glorious, and the choir top notch.

 

Here ist it:

 

http://plenum.free.fr/worcester/

 

This link opens a directory; the Saint-Saëns mass are the 7,8,9,10,11.

The rest is choir music from Samuel-Sebastian Wesley.

 

It must be stated R. Massey played the main organ while Paul Trepte, today titular at Ely Cathedral, held the little one (An H&H now dissepeared from the Cathedral)

 

The french are rediscovering this music today. There existed only one or two recordings in France, interpreted with neo-baroque preconceptions; that is, like

what was believed to be "operatic-lightheartly music from the period" with deep tremolos in the voice etc.

Saint-Saëns has been in the "purgatoire" during the whole classic-revival period.

It was even questionned, in the 70's, if his music deserved any recording at all.

 

Up to today it is not easy to find recordings of his organ works, let alone his

church repertoire.

But things are evolving; young organists are found of transcriptions from Saint-Saëns, for example the "Danse macabre" (among others from Lemare, but a friend who sometimes come here under the name "Cavaillé-Cool" made his own

transcription of that piece) is a big craze today with young players.

 

I placed these pieces on-line in an attempt to convince some englishmen there was

something to rescue somewhere in England; the actual result has been hundreds of

Mails from....France, from people who were amazed by the organ, Wesley, and this Saint-Saëns Mass, which is maybe for the first time interpreted correctly on a recording with Donald Hunt's magic.

To me, having made several times the pilgrinage to W....estern England somewhere to hear that choir, Mr Hunt is the Von Karajan for choral music. Period!

 

The Saint-Saëns Mass is a youth work (Opus 4, age 18!) largely inspired by a baroque work, the "Messe royale" from Henri Du mont.

It was originally written for choir and orchestra, but the organ version soon

followed, and is better suited to that work by far.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am currently rehearsing this work with a choral society which I co-direct and would agree that it is fabulous music. As a matter of interest, the petit orgue part has far more work that the grand orgue and is the more difficult of the two.

 

Anyone interested in hearing this live in a super building and with a wonderful grand orgue should come to our concert in Tewkesbury Abbey on Saturday 12th November (7:30pm). We're hiring an electronic as the second organ. The programme also includes Vierne's Messe Solennelle, Faure's Cantique, Cesar Frank's Psalm 150, plus a few solo items.

 

See http://www.silurian-consort.org.uk/ for further information

 

I have the Worcester recording on LP and agree its well worth hearing - as there appears to be only a single recording of this work on issue at the moment surely this could be re-released?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Roffensis

The Sanctus and Benedictus were reissued on a Decca compilation, but despite trying to arouse their interest to riessue the whole Mass again, nothing ever happened :lol: . It came out twice on CD.

The Tewkesbury concert sounds really good, I'm playing that night though, so it effectively rules me out. :( I know the petite organ part is really fiddly, on the Worcester recording the Grande Orgue sounds absolutely magnificent. A friend was up form London over the weekend, and he couldn't get over it.

All best,

R

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know of two other exceptional choral works from Saint-Saëns, the kind

of chef d'oeuvres that place him with the very best composers:

 

1)- The "Oratorio de Noël", Opus 12.

 

This is made of 10 short, concise pieces -the whole making little more

than 35 minutes-.

It is written for choir, organ and an orchestra; but light use is made of this

orchestra. There is a harp whose interventions are absolutely delicious, lending

a seraphic atmosphere very well suited to the work.

The style is neo-classic without apology; it is written "Dans le style de Seb. Bach"

after Saint-Saëns himself.

 

But there are lots of difference in the very meaning of this work, which is darker by

far than any JSB's work. It is actually a profound music, quite romantic, but clothed

in a refined, maniered form.

 

There is a good recording on CD, not as good as an older I have on an LP -which is poignant- but recommandable:

 

Saint-Saëns: Oratorio de Noël. Respighi: Lauda per la Nativita del Signore.

 

Conductor: Anders Eby, the Mikaeli Chamber choir

 

Proprius PRCD 9057 1981,1994

 

2)- The Requiem

 

This too is a concise work, about 35 minutes, in 8 pieces.

It is written for choir, organ and orchestra, but here -unlike the Oratorio de Noël-

I think a version for choir and organ only, interpreted the Mr Hunt's way, would be

even better. The two recordings I have, one on an LP, the second on a CD, are a bit too "operatic" for so deep a music; it's a bit as if one attempted to play Howells

with french ornamentation and "tremblants": anachronic and lightheardly.

 

This is the most poignant Requiem I know, and I think it would be even more so

with a british choir with boy's voices and a late-romantic british organ.

 

Here are the references of the CD:

 

Saint-Saëns: Requiem, Psaume XVIII

 

Orchestre national d'Ile de France

Conductor: Jacques Mercier

 

BMG RCA Victor red seal 74321 540502, 1989

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...