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Charles Camille Saint-SaŽns
1835 - 1921
France
Picture Picture
Ch.C. Saint-SaŽns
Camille Saint-SaŽns (09/10/1835 - 16/12/1921), a French composer, born in Paris. Once described as the French Mendelssohn, he was a talented and precocious child, with interests by no means confined to music. He made an early impression as a pianist. Following established French tradition, he was for nearly twenty years organist at the Madeleine in Paris and taught at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he befriended his pupil Gabriel Faurť. Prolific and versatile as a composer, by the time of his death in 1921 his popularity in France had diminished very considerably, as fashions in music changed.
Pie Jesu
Period:Romanticism
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:2'40
Label(s):Adami HORTUS 015
Pie Jesu for mixed choir.
Messe de requiem
Period:Romanticism
Composed in:1878
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:35'47''
In memory of:Albert Libon
Label(s):Cala CACD 1015
BMG 74321 540502
Chandos CHAN10214
Solstice SO 75
The Requiem (opus 54) occupies a special place in Saint-SaŽns's religious choral works. Its dedicatee was a friend named Albert Libon, who had made a bequest to the composer of 100,000 francs on condition that Saint-SaŽns should write a requiem to be performed after Libon's death. This occured in 1877 and early the following spring, Saint-SaŽns travelled to Switzerland where he composed the mass in its entirely within the space of eight days. Unlike Berlioz and Verdi, whose respective requiems were conceived in grandiose and quasi-operatic styles, Saint-SaŽns's composition never loses sight of the church. As in the Requiem of Faurť, a lifelong friend of the older composer, the vocal writing throughout is both devotional and entreating, with soloists and chorus echoing each other in urgent supplication. The scoring is discreet and lucid, the harps in particular making notable contributions to the accompaniment with filigrees of sound. The organ too has an important part, and is often used with striking effect, as in the "Tuba mirum" section of the "Dies irae", where it is joined by four unison trombones. (At the first performance in 1878, under the composer's direction in the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the organ was played by Charles Marie Widor.) The sorrow in the music, particulary in the opening pages of the Requiem, and again in the "Agnus Dei" (where the same theme is reprised), takes on an added poignancy when we learn that not long after Saint-SaŽns returned from Switzerland, his young son fell to his death from the fourth floor of the family's Paris home. This tragedy was compounded even more horribly when his other child died of an illness only a few weeks later. One can almost hear in Saint-SaŽns's deeply-felt music a premonition of the pain that was to come.
Author:Edward Johnson
Bruckner's Requiem (1848/49) reveals, in its busy string figuration against slower-moving choral writing, persistent metrical patterns and organ figured bass, the influence of the Viennese masses of the late 18th century. Its modest length and faithful adherence to the Latin text make it entirely suitable for liturgical use. After the mid-19yh century many important settings, including those of Schumann (1852), Moniuszko (1862), Saint-SaŽns (1878) and DvorŠk (1891), were conceived more in terms of the concert hall, inclining, by their grand scale and, in some cases, textual liberties, towards the oratorio, the most favoured sacred genre of the 19th century.
Author:Steven Chang-Lin Yu