I hastened to include a review of Du Mont's Magnificat last month to make him a featured composer of that issue though without any fuss, so I wonder how many readers noticed. Campra's Requiem was written for the memorial service of the Archbishop of Paris, 23 November The work appears to be scored for SATBarB choir and soli with five-part strings, two flutes and continuo. But as is usual in French music of the period, there is just one violin part in tutti sections, with two violins only in solo sections when the violas are tacet.

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The advent of the CD seems to have prompted a flurry of interested in the music of Andre Campra How curious, since he does not even have an anniversary in the offing. Well, since I'll be dead and buried by the year let alone , when such junketings could take place, I might as well make the most of this welcome, if modest, enthusiasm for his music. In point of fact much of it, both for the church and for the stage, is noteworthy and this Messe de Mort or Requiem Mass afford ample proof.

Its date of composition is uncertain but, since the closing fugue is an elaboration of one which he had incorporated into his grand motet of , Der profundis , we might suppose it to have been composed sometime after that. Others, however, place the work earlier in Campra's life. During the eighteenth century there were various permutations of the content of the Requiem Mass and in Campra's version there are certain omissions. There is no Dies irae , for instance, nor a Libera me.

The Benedictus , too, is excluded, though this is also true of some of Charpentier's Masses. These sections are further sub-divided variously into recits, dialogues, duos, trios and choruses.

I have long found this work of great and, it would seem, enduring beauty. Campra was a gifted theatre composer and knew well how to handle the components of an elaborate sacred work in a colourful and dramatic manner. We find evidence of that, for example, in the Gradual , whose reiterated ''non, non'' etc. But it is the quiet intensity and the strongly contemplative character of Campra's Requiem which, perhaps, strike the profoundest note.

It is, furthermore, a work of considerable individuality which stands out from among the greater number of sacred works of the ''Grand Siecle''.

This new recording from Harmonia Mundi is the third to have been released commercially. The performance is attentive to points of style and has some particularly convincing solo singing, notably from two British artists, John Elwes and Stephen Varcoe. Varcoe's contribution I thought outstanding in the Sanctus but throughout the solo team is a strong one. As usual, the voices of La Chapelle Royale are pleasantly blended and clear in texture. The orchestra, too, nake a strong contribution with several instances of effective woodwind playing.

Compared with John Eliot Gardiner's Erato account of the same work, Herreweghe may well strike us as being a little cool, a little detached; it seems a small point but in the end, I think it is the crucial one for Gardiner introduces an intensity to his reading which is persuasive. The Monteverdi Choir always sound more fervent than that of La Chapelle Royale, but I feel that Gardiner also captures the pathos of Campra's music to a greater extent than Herreweghe.

In the end it is more a matter of personal taste than a question of choosing the better performance. Herreweghe does full musical justice to Campra's score but Gardiner succeeds better in stirring our passions. The new version is beautifully recorded and, as I say, eloquently performed. Follow us.


Campra Requiem Mass

He also wrote three books of cantatas as well as religious music, including a requiem. His father was his first music teacher. He was reprimanded by his superiors in for having taken part in theatrical performances without permission, but was nevertheless made a chaplain on 27 May of that year. Campra added violins to the performance of sacred music at the Paris cathedral, a controversial innovation in an era when they were considered street instruments. He began to compose for the theatre in and published some theatrical compositions under his brother's name to protect his reputation with church authorities. In he gave up his post at Notre-Dame and devoted himself to theatrical music with critical success. By he was such a musical celebrity that he became a target for negative articles in the press.


Messe de Requiem


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