. Les Angelus .


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One century of French Sacred Music for solos, duets and organ (1850 ~ 1950).

Françoise Masset | Soprano
Jean-Christophe Clair | Countertenor
Pascal Marsault | Organ

Les Angelus is an original musical program, which guides listeners towards musical horizons that are for the most part little-known; from Camille Saint-Saëns to Jehan Alain, listeners will discover a substantial piece of French music and its rich spirituality.

The part of French history in which it was composed, marked by awful wars, the noise of materialist ideologies, violence, fear and blood, can nonetheless be viewed as one of the greatest eras for the creativity of sacred art.

Set around the three Angelus by Louis Vierne – each one of which evokes a time of day where the Angelus is prayed: morning, noon, and evening –, the various compositions have been chosen to form a great prayer whose rich colors reflect the passions of the human soul at different times of day and life.

Whether peaceful and sunlit or sombre and dramatic, every human feeling encountered on our life-long quest is expressed admirably in this program.

Francis Poulenc in the Hymn translated from the Roman breviary by Jean Racine: “Make haste to give light, O light eternal, to the unfortunate who sit in the shadow of death”, Gabriel Fauré in En prière: “Do not forsake me, give me the softness I need to appease all ills, to lighten suffering and misery!”, Arthur Honegger in Psalm CXXX in Hebrew: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord”, or Jehan Alain in the Prayer for us beings of flesh: “Blessed are those who have died for cities of flesh, for they are the body of the City of God”: all these composers evoke the inner tension of each being towards the only greater Light capable of lighting up the darkness of sorrowful and powerless lives, so as to change them into lives of hope and discreet beauty, lives silently offered by love of another or an Other, greater yet in His effacement.

Les Angelus point us forward to the wave on the shore, to the ebb and flow of the tide.  From Heaven to Earth and from Earth to Heaven, a vast love song makes itself heard: “Benedictum sit cor amantissimum et dulcissimum nomen Domini nostri Jesu Christi et gloriosissimae Virginis Mariae”  (“Blessed be the most loving Heart and the sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of the most glorious Virgin Mary”).  This prayer is made all the more touching by the sweet presence of she who pleads ceaselessly for those who suffer and thus brings another musical light.  Ever present, she is the Star of the Sea and the blessed Gate of Heaven, the Protector and Advocate, the full of Grace, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  So be it!”

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