Friday, August 1, 2014

Cluny: La Transfiguration - Chants de Pierre le Venerable

In anticipation of the upcoming Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6), here is a beautiful collection of 12th-century chants for the day.    (Here's the page for this CD.)

Some explanation from the Amazon page:
Pierre the Venerable was one of the most remarkable men in 12th-century Europe: he was abbot of Cluny (France), the most influential monastery of its day; he sheltered Peter Abelard after the Pope condemned Abelard's teachings; he had the Koran translated into Latin; he defended Jews from persecution. On top of all this, he was a fine composer. The enterprising French ensemble Venance Fortunat performs here Pierre's hymns for the Feast of the Transfiguration. Director Anne-Marie Deschamps uses only unaccompanied voices, generally solo or in unison (occasionally with a drone), without rhythmic pulse but with careful attention paid to long-versus-short note values--in effect, the long notes of basic chant melodies are embellished with Pierre's quick, almost improvisatory ornaments. The impression created by the music and text (and magnified by the extraordinary "Clunisian" acoustic in which the recording was made) is one of intense, rhapsodic devotion--somewhat reminiscent of Hildegard of Bingen, though without her extravagant metaphor and wide vocal ranges. Deschamps and her musicians deserve high praise for finding this music and performing it so sympathetically. -- Matthew Westphal

Amazon offers the track list below; most or all of these pieces are standard Transfiguration chants - like O Nata Lux (the Transfiguration hymn for Lauds) - that have been set to new music.   I will try to find some lyrics to them and post them;  eventually; meantime here is the complete list:
1. Ecce Nubes Lucida
2. Assumens Ihesus
3. Invitatoire
4. Assumptis Hodie
5. Coram Tribus Discipulis
6. Primo Genitus
7. Ihesus Ad Discipulos
8. O Nata Lux De Lumine
9. Antienne: Ton 1. Visionem Quam Vidistis
10. Antienne: Ton 2. Accessit Ihesus
11. Antienne: Ton 3. Ut Testimonium Haberet
12. Antienne: Ton 4. Lex Per Moysen
13. Antienne: Ton 5. Descendentibus Illis
14. Antienne: Ton 6. Celi Aperti Sunt
15. Antienne: Ton 7. Tribus Discipulis
16. Antienne: Ton 8. Celi Aperti Sunt
17. Claruit Magnitudo Dei
18. Hodie In Monte
19. Discipuli Christi
20. Sicut Unius Dei Trinitas
21. Videns Petrus
22. Ave Stella Matutina

"Hail, Star of the Morning"!  Very beautiful stuff here, and now I want to learn more about Pierre le Venerable, too....

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