City Of London Sinfonia - Gloria, Stabat Mater

Tuesday 1st February 1994
City Of London Sinfonia - Gloria, Stabat Mater

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Virgin 7592862

Reviewed by John Irvine

It took the death of a close friend in a motor accident in 1936 to bring Poulenc back to the Roman Catholic faith of his youth, from which he had been alienated. He entered the Chapel of the Black Virgin of Rocamadour bitter and angry, and left it at peace with himself and with God. From that point he ceased to be a rich amateur in the world of music and became a serious and important composer. Three of his religious works are represented here. "Litanies A La Vierge Noire" was the first piece to reflect his rediscovered faith and in which he tried to encapsulate "the calm devotional tone and rustic simplicity of French peasant prayers." Such simplicity came from the heart, but Poulenc avoids the trap of sentimentality that a lesser composer would fall into. "Stabat Mater" was written in 1951 for another friend who had died. The whole work, the shape and texture and drive of the music, hinges on the final words of the text: "Grant that my spirit may be given the glory of paradise" and as such it is less a setting of a formal poem and more a personal prayer for a departed friend. The real highlight of the collection, however, is the "Gloria" of 1959, completed in Poulenc's 60th year. Four stabbing chords announce the work and act as a recurring motif. The music is stirring and uplifting as well as devotional - the movements for solo soprano are particularly moving and are handled delicately and sweetly by Catherine Dubosc on this recording. The City Of London Sinfonia under Richard Hickox give their all for this disc, which particularly enables the "Gloria" to sparkle. Very French. Very Catholic. Very good.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Interested in reviewing music? Find out more here.

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.