Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Buxtehude Membra Jesu Nostri |
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The beauty of medieval God in baroque beauty
Jacques COULARDEAU | OLLIERGUES France | 12/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Supposedly the best German composer, though before Bach. I will not commit myself on that rank but definitely a great composer. This musical work is composed on a medieval poem "Salve Mundi Salutare" ascribed to either Saint Bernard de Clairvaux or Arnulf of Louvain or even an unknown person. What we can say is that the body of Christ on his cross is reduced to the seven days of the Holy Week, which means the dying crucified body contains the last day of the week and its resurrection. It is thus an optimistic Christian vision. Each part of that body, each section of that poem is divided in six pieces, the number of Solomon, and his wisdom flowing from God's cup to ours. This makes this poem and this composition ecstatic and contemplative in this very inspired and visionary enjoyment. But, what's more, to see this cup of God that Jesus has to drink to save the whole humanity and redeem all human beings in the body of Jesus himself is the best embodiment of the conception of beauty in the Middle Ages. Beauty was only achieved when we were able to reflect the beauty of God's creation and God's governing of our fate and destiny and this divine beauty resided in the equilibrium between the bad and the good sides of everything and here God's beauty in Christ is the perfect symbiosis if the divine spiritual dimension of Jesus in his own flesh and body whose blood he was supposed to pour over the world to redeem it. And our love for Jesus has to be just the same, a limitless love for his spiritual being and for God behind this spiritual being, and at the same time an irresistible and absolute love for the body of Jesus in the physical dimension it brought to his mission, in the human dimension of the Son of Man's mission. The poet then had to express this perfect union and he did by opening each of the seven sections with a quotation from the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament equally. And then he added his own composition. Thus each part of that body is described in its very texture and physical existence but at the same time it leads to us, the faithful, who are adoring these parts because they are going to be the tools of our repentance, the tool of our salvation. There again we have the perfect medieval vision of a symbiosis of different antagons: Jesus and us, Jesus' body in its human physical suffering or doings, and Jesus' body in his mission and even in his future responsibility as for our salvation when it comes to the long expected Doomsday. What can the musician then do to reach the same level of divine inspiration and beautiful symbiosis? Buxtehude follows a simple structure. Each part will start with a chorus (the biblical quotations) of the five soloists and this chorus will close again the said part. And between these two biblical choruses that do not aim at melting the five voices together but at composing them together in their very originalities, four sections will enable the composer to contrast the voices, to bring together in complementary and contrastive duets or other compositions of the voices, including some choruses. Buxtehude then plays on the differences between the voices and composes the unity of these differences in the differences themselves. The two sopranos are thus contrasted not by their ranges but by the melody they sing, but then the composer enjoys, to the utmost, contrasting the sopranos to the alto, or to the tenor, or to the bass. He also contrasts the three male voices and that is so deep to have such different ranges and textures within the unity of male voices. That's God's divine beauty per se and in itself. This work is here rendered with only five singers who are both soloists and chorus and a reduced musical formation of ten musicians. That gives to that piece the confidentiality, the intimacy it needs to speak to both our minds and our hearts, our souls in one word. This decision to keep the chorus and the orchestra to a reduced size is the best thing that this musical work deserve. And the recording in the Abbey church of Payerne is a beautiful choice because it has the resonance of that church in some solos that seem to be distant and flying on some high cloud that is typical of a good abbey church, a resonance and sonority no studio could have provided. The DVD provides us with a close look at the singers and musicians and that is very interesting since it enables us to see the body at work, even if at times some articulations look like faces or grins, and I particularly admire the very simple and pure presence of the conductor. The subtitles are of course a great help to follow the singing, though I regret that the words be not printed too with the translations so that we could have both the sung words and the meaning at the same time.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines