Chant Gregorien: Repons Et Monodies Gallicanes
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The record begins with some "versus" by the 9th century Bishop Theodulf of Orleans, a hymn with chorus in which the strophes have a different melody from that sung by the children's voices. The entry of Christ into Jerusalem is described in an old Gallon antiphon (Cum audissei) rich in colour and texture: the entries of the different voices intercalated in the narration bring additional elements of variety to the melody where alternating syllabic and melismatic passages underline the important words of the text.
Next the Gallican antiphon Collegerunt, with spoken words interjected by various participants in the plot woven against Christ: after the announcement of the meeting of the high priests and Pharisees in the Sanhedrin, two soloists take over the story. The story of the high priest Caiaphas "Better that one man should die for the people, than that the whole Jewish nation should perish", is also told by solo voice. The repeat of the recitative (Ab illo...) begins on a high note and cascades downwards with superb effect. But above all it is the dramatic atmosphere which stands out in this long piece. To end the first part, another piece of Gallican liturgy, interspersed with the Byzantine Trisagion; these verses, Improperia of Good Friday, are sung in Greek and Latin alternately, following the practice of bilingual communities in which Orientals and Latins celebrate the Adoration of the Cross together.
In the second part, parts of the mass are brought together; these are the responses which follow immediately after the scripture reading or the sermon and which highlight certain themes of Holy Week. The choir sings the response, a soloist the verse and then the central part of the response is repeated.
The response Omnes amid retells the desertion by the disciples and of the betrayal. The second response (Tristis est) is a Byzantine piece and expresses the mental loneliness of Christ abandoned by those He loved.
The third (0 vos omnes) is taken from a text of Jeremiah which puts upon the lips of Christ a plea and a request to consider His sufferings: in the same mode as the preceding responses, this one places us in a different atmosphere, that of resignation and serenity. Ecce quomodo draws the moral lessons of the Passion drama. It is a silent meditation made before the tomb.
The fifth response (Tenebrae) is on the contrary a descriptive piece with the Evangelist describing the death of Christ on the cross. The monodic response could be compared with the polyphonic response of Vittoria in order to demonstrate that the expressiveness of a piece of vocal music is not always directly achieved by technical means: here, with a very small "palette", the composer has highlighted the plaint of Christ in the upper ranges of the Mixolydian mode, which is the most elevated of the eight Gregorian modes. To end with, a lesson from the Office for Easter Saturday, the "Prayer of the prophet Jeremiah" which ends the Book of Lamentations. Sung here by a countertenor, the piece is taken from a manuscript in Silos in Castille and it recalls ancient Mozarabic liturgy where it was the custom to have this sung by a child.
The final entry into Jerusalem takes place in a pianissimo which leaves a prolonged and infinite echo in the mind of the listener.