listen and read: Dominique Vellard sings Offertory Veritas mea, V1,2
  • martin
    Posts: 19
    The offertory is posted by Geert Maessen (who directs a Gregorian 4-tet, see

    Offertory in the 2nd mode, Veritas mea with verse 1. posui, 2. misericordiam from the - let's put it this way - revolutionary recording made by Dominique Vellard and Emmanuel Bonnardot in 1984. DV has been directing the ensemble Gilles Binchois since 1979. From the onset he has been working very closely with Marie-Noël Colette, now a professor of musicology in Paris, who has studied with Dom. Cardine. 'Revolutionary' is correct here, no-one has sung solistic Gregorian chant like this in our time, as an amazed Wim van Gerven (in life, director of Amsterdam Schola Cantorum acclaimed: " ... he really sings precisely what is written with the neumes! " I am not certain what manuscript Geert has made us look at, but it is a bit different in details here and there, which in it self is interesting. As DV/MNC have done so much to work out a coherent interpretation that gives all neumatic forms and details, including strophic and oriscus in its various shape, their due, so much so that it at once becomes clear where there is a difference among mss of St. Gallen notation, where there is to be an episema or not, what is and what is not written as a group or in one stroke of the pen is all clearly audible.
    One of the strengths of St. G. notation is that many permutations of grouping are possible, which graphic morphing quality it shares with Laon.
    A simple melodic element of 4 tones, C D F E F may be written in many different ways as to articulation and ligatures, to separate tones or to join with many varieties of melodic accent or nuance. Thus one can write any combination of single, double, triple or compound neumes, and these variations should be coherently articulated in an informed performance. This 'historic' recording then, as the first of its kind, sets a very high standard. Warmly recommended to bowl over some institutionalized romanticisms, and, once you give in, very good to listen to.

    1984 recording, including full tracklist and audioclips:
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Beautiful. "But revolutionary"? Maybe in the 80's it was, I don't know. But the scholarship necessary for this kind of performance has been around twice that long.
  • Dominique Vellard is brilliant. I remember listening to this recording with Dr. Mary Berry in the late 80's or early 90's, she herself a student of Dom Cardine. She was transfixed, listening intently and afterwards she said that while a performance of Chant could never be proved with any academic certainty, that she felt "in her bones" that this was the sound of the Chant in the first centuries.
  • martin
    Posts: 19
    Ok, when I say 'revolutionary' that's very much from my point of vieuw. This recording was a turning point for me, without it, I would not have gotten involved, I don't think. But even when it's true that the scholarship behind it all had been available before, this had not lead to any noticeable change in performance practice up to this recording. Most 'semiologically informed' other performances have not gone this far in trying to deal with a coherent aesthetic that fits the historical information, and have not asked themselves enough hard questions. This concerns basic, essential matters as to how a pes sub bipunctis should differ audibly from a light torculus followed by a tractulus. How to approach a specific tone, how to leave it, vocal gestures, precise intonation in monodic modal cantillation, for which to look outside harmonized, equally tempered Western music, etc. etc. Dominique has done a lot of hard work and that's why it is a lot more interesting and edifying than most other interpretations. In 1988 I was able to folow a course by the then very active tandem Colette-Vellard, which tipped me over. However, though I am generally very happy about his recordings and i greatly admire the musician, it's not that this is to be the new standard. However, MNC-DV working together for so long has certainly shown the right questions to ask.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I wonder since the staff notation didn't indicate much rhythmic details, what happened to the rhythm of Gregorian chant sung in the liturgy between the time of the introduction of the staff notation and the 'invention' of classical Solesmes method. Was the rhythm from the ancient manuscripts totally lost, or it has been developing organically to fit into the liturgy of the Roman rite?
  • martin
    Posts: 19
    To miacoyne: If you would open the address:
    at news: you will see a clickable link to 'scores for tenth century chant'
    in the introduction a chronological sequence over the ages of chantbooks and notational forms is reproduced, and how what is actually notated is affected.
    This covers known history from a-diastematic mss, notatation on lines, later square notation, the reform in the 16th century, the editions of Solesmes and more recent.
    regards, martin
  • Just to add to the discussion a few more data points.

    This is Sardinian traditional choral music: Here.
    This is Corsican traditional choral music: Here

    In both cases I can see a relation between these traditional musical forms and DV's interpretation, closer anyway than the Solesmes method. (Not disrespecting Solesmes, or really any method of singing chant as long as it sounds beautiful.)
  • martin
    Posts: 19
    Thanks for the links, it so happens that I like this 'earthy' way of singing as well, but I would not apply this aesthetic to any of the Gregorian dialects. The group sound is tight and resonant but as soon one sings a solo line it sounds a bit naked, not their forte. I'll add to that, neither is their Latin, that's for the 2nd link, the group 'Tempus Fugit'.
    Surprised to see a link to Geert's programme 'Bonum est' on the Dutch ConcertZender, since you know of it, tomorrow's programme will feature the first solo concert with Gregorian chant by a Dutchman, as I read later in the newspaper, of 1989, and recordings with Rollin Rachele from 1992.
  • Scores for Tenth Century Chant can also be found here: