In the concert cycle “Sacred Chants” on the 28th of September, the Latvian Radio Choir, their conductor Kaspars Putniņš, and organist Aigars Reinis have focused their attention to 20th-century French sacred music.
In Maurice Duruflé’s work, the elegance of French culture intertwines with impressionistic elements and the traditions of sacred church music. He spent his school years in the Rouen Cathedral, in which the Gregorian chant tradition has been practiced since the 8th century, and Duruflé names this the most important period of his life. Maurice Duruflé’s personality existed somehow outside of the 20th-century musical trends, he was not interested in experiments or the ongoings of the Parisian music elite. Duruflé adored the composers of the past and wrote sacred works, piously addressing God.
The composer’s Requiem is his most expansive work, written towards the end of World War II and dedicated to the memory of his father. There are no dramatic collisions so characteristic of other composers’ requiems in Duruflé’s opus. The emotional level-headedness and the clean, unison melodies in this work create an arc to the more than 3-thousand-year-old Gregorian music tradition. In Duruflé’s own words, the Requiem “reflects the anguish of humanity faced with the mystery of its final end.”
In his work, the musical philosopher and mystic Olivier Messiaen broadcast theologian symbols and rainbows of rich colours. O sacrum convivium is Messiaen’s only motet that uses liturgical text - it vividly reveals the composer’s unmatched skill of crafting harmonic depths and the deep effect of the Holy Communion on the composer.
After a pilgrimage to Notre Dame de Rocamadour, Francis Poulenc re-discovered Christianity for himself. After this experience, the composer’s earlier playful wit turned into a message of solemn contemplation, and he went on to create outstanding choral works that are passionate yet delicate and contain the powerful strength of faith.