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Sacred Music – Sacred Music at Easter

During the Romantic period in France, music at Eastertime fell into two main categories (following the disappearance of the leçons de ténèbres, a French Baroque genre that did not survive into the 18th century): one which dealt with the seven last words of Christ on the cross and one which focused on the suffering of the Virgin Mary at the foot of the cross, in the form of the Stabat Mater dolorosa. The various cycles of the Paroles du Christ either opted for an instrumental illustration (organ or orchestra) of each of his statements, or a narrative extension which contextualised the meaning and impact of each saying. Charles Gounod, Théodore Dubois, César Franck and Fernand de La Tombelle left behind some wonderful accounts, all highly varied in construction. Some of them, in fact, employed an eminently Romantic dramatic discourse (such as Dubois), while others, like Gounod, favoured a plainer, more introspective approach, readily using the purity of Neo-Palestrinan style. Unlike the Sept Paroles, the various 19th-century French Stabat Maters made greater use of the presence of soloists, who either joined forces with the chorus and orchestra or were placed in opposition to them. The grief of the Virgin Mary allowed composers to explore and express every aspect of suffering and affliction, colours that can also be found in the great Requiems of the period. In addition to some wonderful Stabat Maters by Théodore Gouvy and – again – Charles Gounod, there are more intimate scores by Émile Paladilhe, Clémence de Grandval and Louis Bourgault-Ducoudray. Also worthy of note is the work by Gaston Salvayre, Prix de Rome winner in 1872, who attracted attention during his stay at the Villa Medici for his sophisticated style of writing.

    Images - 5
  • Affiche annonçant une exécution de Sept Paroles du Christ de La Tombelle (1906)
  • Page de titre des Sept Paroles du Christ (Dubois)
  • Stabat (Clémence de Grandval)
  • Stabat Mater (Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray)
  • Page de titre des Sept Paroles du Christ (Théodore Dubois)
  • Works - 5
  • Sept Paroles de Notre Seigneur Jésus Christ sur la Croix, Les (Charles Gounod)
  • Sept Paroles du Christ, Les (Théodore Dubois)
  • Stabat (Clémence de Grandval)
  • Stabat Mater (Gioachino Rossini)
  • Stabat Mater (Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray)
  • Persons - 8
  • BOURGAULT-DUCOUDRAY, Louis-Albert (1840-1910)
  • DUBOIS, Théodore (1837-1924)
  • FRANCK, César (1822-1890)
  • GOUNOD, Charles (1818-1893)
  • GOUVY, Théodore (1819-1898)
  • GRANDVAL, Clémence de (1828-1907)
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    Themes - 2
  • Courant – L’École franckiste
  • Genre – La musique sacrée au XIXe siècle