Tag Archives: Music – Baroque

GUIDO MORINI ( b. 1959, Italian), co-founder of the Baroque Ensemble Accordone, writes his 21st century opera Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis (Revive the Life Force Spirit) inspired by music of the 6th and 16th centuries.

FEATURE image: Lion, Lodi Cathedral, Italy. The cathedral commissioned the opera. “Leone stiloforo di pietra. Lodi, cattedrale” by claudiobertolesi is marked with CC PDM 1.0. Public Domain.

Ensemble Accordone in 2010.

By John P. Walsh

The Italian early Baroque ensemble “Ensemble Accordone” was founded in 1984 by two musicologists—composer Guido Morini (b. 1959) and tenor Marco Beasley (Italian-English, b. 1957). In the last decade the duo, in collaboration with other musical artists, has recorded and released 10 albums.

The 45-minute opera called Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis (Revive the Life Force Spirit) is composed by Moroni and appeared in 2009. It is divided into three parts with thirteen chapters and includes a prelude and interlude in Gregorian chant.

While Ensemble Accordone’s main focus is arranging and performing musical literature mainly of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is one of two recent albums by the group conceived from original compositions by Morini.

In their interpretations, Ensemble Accordone often seeks collaboration with outside musical artists. This is also the case for Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis, an opera for three soloists, three choirs, organ and basso continuo concertante. With texts drawn from the the Old Testament, the first part is called Effuderunt Aquas Nubila (Poured out of murky waters).

Featured are the Helicon and Euterpe choirs as well as soloists Elisabetta de Mircovich and Claudia Caffagni. Special guest musicians include Karen Peeters, Jaap Kruithof, Edwin Derde, and Guido Morini. The opera’s conductor is Geert Hendrix.

While Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is imbued with the monophonic structure of sixth century Gregorian chant as well as Baroque polyphony of one thousand years later, Ensemble Accordone consciously strives in this album to have early music be easier for today’s listener to enjoy.

While today’s listener may not recognize or be able to identify this melodious music’s traditional backbone, the manifestation of a “rigorous lyricism” demonstrates Ensemble Accordone’s creative confidence in bringing early music into relevant practice for the 21st century.

Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is the first part of a trilogy of compositions dedicated to the Christian Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit. By design, the new commission by the Basilica Cattedrale della Vergine Assunta (Lodi Cathedral in northern Italy) is to counter today’s materialism by configuring the great religious traditions in a new way through contemporary music and words. Of course, the musical heritage, careful and creative arrangment, powerful lyricism and performative precision are intended to have universal appeal regardless of the listener’s ethical or religious convictions.

The opera describes the presence, vital breath, and action of the Spirit in the life of the individual and community. It’s libretto of Old Testament verses is a new Latin translation by Ettore Garioni.

At Versailles: Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge (1702) by MARC-ANTONE CHARPENTIER (1643-1704, French).

FEATURE image: “Jordi Savall à l’Arsenal.” by iJuliAn is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Le Concert des Nations is an orchestra created in 1989 that performs orchestral, choral, and symphonic music with period instruments. Founded by Catalan maestro and viola de gamba virtuoso, Jordi Savall (b. 1941), Le Concert de Nations performs a wide ranging repertoire from the Baroque period (16th-17th centuries) to the Age of Enlightenment (18th century) and into the Romantic period (19th century). Their name, Le Concert des Nations, refers to a musical work by French Baroque composer and musician, François Couperin (1668-1733).

Le Concert des Nations in 2005. Fair Use.
Presumed portrait of François Couperin by 17th century aninymous French artist. oil of canvas. see- http://collections.chateauversailles.fr/#c5bd04a2-447c-430a-8d49-40848da99695

Messe et Motets pour la Vierge by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1702):
Canticum in honorem Beate Virginis Mariae inter hominess et angelos (H.400)
In Nativitatem Domini Canticum: nuit (H.416)
Stabat Mater pour des religieuses (H.15)
Litanies de la Vierge a 6 voix et 2 dessus de violes (H.83)
Missa Assumpta Est Maria (H.11a)

Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nation’s performance of Messe et Motets pour la Vierge (1698) by Charpentier.

What is Charpentier’s Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge about?

Marc-Antoine Charpentier (French, 1643-1704) was a prolific composer who had a diverse list of clients in Paris and the composer continually adapted his work. His religious music is complex for its musical relationships and its theological structures.

Starting in the sixteenth century one of the Catholic Church’s responses to Protestant reformers during the so-called “Catholic Counter Reformation” was the renewal of its devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Charpentier’s composition of Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge is not trivial. It supports varied and comprehensive expressions of Marian devotion. This includes a didactic dialogue in her honor (Canticum in honorem Virginis Mariae Beatae homines…); a sorrowful Virgin at the foot of the Cross (Stabat mater dolorosa); a litany of the Virgin; and a great Mass in her honor for God’s glory (Assumpta est Maria…).

Added to the theological variety of musical forms are its different musical styles for soloists, chorus and orchestra.

Charpentier’s final product is sublime and leads directly to the Mass worship on the Feast of Mary’s assumption into heaven which is August 15.

Louis XIV with his mother and brother, 1643, Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674), Kunsthalle Hamburg.
The crown of France being offered to the young Louis (future King Louis XIV) by the Virgin Mary while his mother (Anne of Austria) and brother (Philippe, Duke of Anjou) attend. Public Domain.

Charpentier’s Messe and the Palace of Versailles

Intriguing facts coincide in this live early music performance of the Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge (Mass and Motets for the Virgin) by Charpentier and the Palace of Versailles in whose Royal Chapel it was recorded in 2007. The ninety-one-minute music video in this post is directed by Olivier Simonnet and broadcast by MEZZO.

In the Jules Hardouin-Mansart-designed chapel of 1699 (completed in 1710) is performed some of the greatest music ever composed by early music ensemble Hespèrion XXI and period instrument orchestra Le Concert des Nations led by Jordi Savall.

Fourteen miles west of Paris, there are many ways to visit Versailles’ château and grounds as it is very big and expansive. The château has over two thousand windows (exact count: 2,153).

Square feet of Versailles compared to Michael Jordan’s Chicagoland mansion

In 2012 when former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan sold his house he listed it at $29 million. For that price the residence boasted 32,683 square feet on seven acres near Chicago.

What about Louis XIV’s Versailles? The royal château is over 720,000 square feet on two thousand acres. The visitor who wanders the 30 rooms of Jordan’s house could wander Versailles’ twenty-three hundred rooms.

Chateau de Versailles – Galerie des Glaces. “File:Chateau Versailles Galerie des Glaces.jpg” by Myrabella is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0[/caption]
Print (c. 1680’s) of M. Charpentier in the lower left corner with two ladies displaying a sheet of musical notations. Public Domain.

Versailles has over 6000 paintings and 5000 pieces of furniture

To be expected, there is much to see inside the château: by one count, 6,123 paintings, 1,500 drawings, 15,000 engravings, 2,000 sculptures and 5,000 pieces of furniture. 

Most of the palace was built in the 1670s. It is interesting that Charpentier’s Messe et Motets Pour La Vierge is performed in its Royal Chapel. Composed in 1702, this brilliant new liturgical music of the time is hosted in a architectural space that at the time was also brand new. It was completed in 1710 by the First Architect to the King’s brother-in-law because Mansart died in 1708 at nearby Marley-le-Roi.

Portrait of Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708), Premier architecte du Roi by François de Troy (9 January 1645 – 21 November 1730), 1699. Palace of Versailles. see – http://collections.chateauversailles.fr/#14206cd6-00df-409f-8ae8-600784935955
The vaulted ceiling in the Royal Chapel at Versailles (1699-1710). Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708) designed it without transverse ribs so to create a unified surface, It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity: iGod the Father in his Glory by Antoine Coypel (1661-1722) is in the center. In the apse is The Resurrection by Charles de La Fosse (1636 – 1716). Above the Royal tribune is The Descent of the Holy Ghost by Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet (1644– 1717).

Performance Vocalists and Musicians

Emmanuel Bardon, countertenor
Yves Bergé, bass
Pascal Bertin, countertenor
Daniele Carnovich, bass
Raphaële Kennedy, soprano
Jean François Novelli, tenor
Jordi Ricart, baritone
Arianna Savall, soprano
Judit Scherrer-Kleber, mezzo-soprano
Elisabetta Tiso, soprano
Luis Vilamajo, tenor

Jordi Savall, pardessus de viole
Guido Balestracci, bass viol
Bruno Cocset, bass violin
Imke David, haute-contre de viole
Xavier Diaz-Latorre, theorbo
Luca Guglielmi, organ and harpsichord
Marc Hantai and Charles Zebley, transverse flutes
Xavier Puertas, violone
Joanna Valencia, tenor viol