Skip to main content

GREGORIAN CHOIR OF PARIS AT THE ABBEY FONTFROIDE - A REVIEW


Every concert review could begin with the words,"This type of music might not be to everyone's liking." Taste in music is highly personal. My wife Cathey considers anything composed after Bach to be jazz. On my desert island, I'll be listening to the fragile voices of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young as well as Grace Slick in her full-throated glory. But in this case, it must be said. An hour and a half of Gregorian chants might not be to everyone's liking.

Now that that's out of the way, the traditional Easter Sunday concert by the Choeur Grégorien de Paris (Gregorian Choir of Paris) demonstrated both the appeal of that particular form of worshipful music and the amazing acoustic properties of the Abbaye de Fontfroide.

Let's start with the Abbey itself. Set in the midst of wine country west of Narbonne, a visit to Fontfroide makes a great day trip. The grounds are immaculate, the buildings well preserved and with fascinating histories. Just a couple of pictures prove my point.



The main chapel is typical of the region and the period. And it seems to have been constructed for the express purpose of making the listening to sacred music a pleasurable experience. (Avery Fisher Hall, take note!) The Choir was constantly on the move, breaking into groups and reforming, singing in solo and duet and trio and quartet and you-name-it configurations from points throughout the chapel. And from every direction, regardless of the number of singers, the acoustics were crystal clear. Just a delight to the ear.


As for the music itself, it was presented with the controlled passion required. Restrained yet powerful.

Two highlights of 90 minutes of nonstop performance...

At one point, two groups of men and two of women took up station in four corners of the chapel. They started with a sort of call and response, one group starting only after the echoes of the previous group had faded. Slowly, the call and response became a sort of rondo, with one group chiming in just before the previous group had completed their phrase. The piece accelerated until the four parts were being sung simultaneously. Dramatic and exhilarating.

The finish was an Alleluia chorus as in the video above. The Chorus moved from the altar down the center aisle to the back of the chapel and the audience was invited to participate. Chilling.

This annual Easter event is well worth attending. And if once was enough for those of us for whom sacred music is not a sacred pleasure, once was necessary to appreciate the beauty of the genre. And beautiful it was.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

RESTAURANT TEN, UZES: RESTAURANT REVIEW

Ten sits just off the market square in Uzes, one of the prettiest villages in southern France. The newly renovated space is airy and comfortable with tables of sufficient size and sufficiently spaced to provide for a pleasant dining experience. Service was cheerful, fully bilingual, and attentive without being overbearing. The food presented well to both eye and tongue. And the rate of approximately 30 € per person for a party of five included starters, mains, a dessert or two, two bottles of local wine, and coffees at the finish. Reasonable if not cheap eats.  So why am I hesitant to give an unqualified thumbs up?  It took me a while to figure it out. Uzes is a quintessentially French village in a quintessentially French region of southern France. There are those who will say that the Languedoc is just as beautiful but less crowded and less expensive than its eastern neighbors. I know. I'm one of those people. But the fact remains that for many people, villages like Uzes are t

CONGRATULATIONS, DUNCAN AND FIONA: JUNE 1, 2019

We've known Duncan since he was about 5 and were honored to be invited to all of the festivities surrounding his wedding to Fiona. The wedding was held in a magazine converted to a military museum in Gosport. Duncan's dream...a wedding in a place where they used to blow things up. I've never been around so many uniforms. Live Long and Prosper! A kiss was the price to continue... That's Duncan's sister Clair arriving on the right. Grandparents...headed for 100 and sharp as tacks. Reception in an old magazine/museum. Mom baked the cake and made the ducks to order. Not from the wedding but seemed appropriate.

2004 BURGMAN 400 SPARK PLUG CHANGE

No, there won't be a video. Changing the spark plug was a relatively simple operation except for the fact that it was the first time that I took off any of my plastics. If you want a video tutorial, they're all over YouTube. I watched one before I got started AND I took my laptop into the garage and punched up the service manual. You can't be too prepared. And being prepared meant knowing that the fasteners holding the plastics together are likely to break when you mess with them. That's why I went to a dealer and picked up six before I started. Worked out well. Four broke. While I was buying parts, I made certain that I had all that I needed for my next oil change. And of course, I bought the plug, an NGK CR7E. The manual says to replace the plug every 7,500 miles. It's been a bit over 6,500. Close enough. My intention is to change the plug at every other oil change. The object of the exercise is to remove the left side leg shield to get at the spark plug. So,