Good Article About Gounod's Bicentennial
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,570
    Over at Rorate Caeli.

    " . . .this grandeur, this serene light which rose before the musical world like a breaking dawn, troubled people enormously. . . at first one was dazzled, then charmed, then conquered . . ." - Camille Saint-Saens, on the work of his contemporary
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,903
    ...this greatest of Catholic composers of the 19th century
    I'll grant it's very close, but even excluding Verdi & Fauré on quantitative grounds that's still a century that included Liszt, Bruckner and Schubert. Anyone around here whitelisting him?

    Btw, the masses alone are still a little confusing at CPDL.
  • Gounod against Reger, Rheinberger, and Bruckner? No way.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,903
    That remark could be taken two ways, but I'll guess that maybe you're not one of those rabid Regerites I've heard tell of ;-) Seriously now, are there any short works by Gounod you prefer to Locus iste or Christus factus est (that keeps Cupertino-ing to "cactus est")?
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,570
    Umm, yes way, thank you very much.

    Seriously now, are there any short works by Gounod you prefer to Locus iste or Christus factus est


    Ave Verum.

    Da Pacem Domine.

    O Divin Redempteur.

    Noel.

    Lovely Appear.

    Unfold Ye Portals Everlasting.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,570
    . . . Also, I read "whitelisting" as "whistling". I am guilty of the latter as well as the former, if the former be possible. Even Montani didn't blacklist all of his stuff. Just take a look at how much of Gounod's he uses for his hymnal.
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  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,529
    Gounod at the top of his game was as good a sacred music composer as anyone in the 19th century. But his music is variable in quality, and frequently panders to popular taste. I'd list him as #3 after Rheinberger and Bruckner.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,107
    I have read that Gounod at his best was exactly as Jeffrey says. But the article noted that when he needed the money, he produced what the buyer wanted, which might not have been one of his greatest works. You know how it goes. That need to earn a living always complicates things.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,903
    Well, there's more than one Gounod Ave verum. In about a thousand years I suppose I'll be tired enough of Byrd, Mozart and Elgar to investigate fully ;-)

    But Rheinberger ahead of Liszt???
  • @Richard Mix: I find much of Liszt's sacred music unnecessarily banal, with a few exceptions. It's certainly competent, but not great. Rheinberger (among the others I listed) captures the Romantic zeitgeist more successfully while still remaining devout and liturgically appropriate.

    Reger was perhaps second only to Schoenberg in his era when it came to sheer compositional skill. I would consider all of his sacred music, including the Eight Sacred Songs, Psalm 100, the chorale harmonizations, and especially the three Op. 110 motets, to be some of the finest ever produced.

    @StimsoninRehab: Which Ave Verum: the one for four voices or the one for five voices that sounds exactly the same?

    I also think Franck's choral music is unfairly maligned and certainly better than Liszt or Gounod.
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  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,903
    Thanks for pointing out Reger's Geistliche Gesänge, though one might quibble German motets dedicated to the Thomaner is pushing the definition of Catholic. (Don't be fooled by the 5vv subtitle, these are all divisi SSAATTBB.) I wonder if we agree that Schubert, a 4-year-old at the century's beginning, leaves the rest in the shade?

    If I look at my parish repertoire, Bleib bei uns and Via Crucis tie well behind Locus iste and Christus factus est, and Franck's Deus in simplicitate, Saint-Säens' Panis angelicus and Fauré's Requiem and Tu es Petrus have shaded out the big G altogether. I'll keep an eye out though; were Rutter/OUP totally wrong to consider him un-anthologizable?
  • JDE
    Posts: 584
    The Messe dite de Clovis is beautiful and serene, and he claims it was based on Gregorian melodies. I regard it as a sort of wistful valedictory for Gounod, since he had been (sometimes unfairly, sometimes not) so maligned over his sacred music.

    I'm a fool for things that are in honor of important historical events, and this one honors the anniversary of the baptism of Clovis I, King of the Franks. There's a brass-driven prelude with soloists and chorus representing Clovis and Saint Rémy, but I would probably leave that out if I were using this for Mass. :)
  • @Richard Mix: Reger certainly had somewhat of a Protestant influence, and I think you'd find yourself hard-pressed to fit one of those into the liturgy--but great Catholic music it must still be considered.

    re:Schubert - absolutely agreed. If he lived even twenty years longer, his influence might've been even greater than Beethoven or Franck.
  • ...than Beethoven or Franck.
    Whilst accepting that the Schubertian boast as at least plausible, are we not stretching things by mentioning Franck (even failing not to give him his due acclaim) in the same breath as Beethoven?

    And speaking of Beethoven - are we or are we not fortunate that he wrote nothing serious for the organ? Can one just imagine an 'Eroica chorale' - a German Piece Heroique?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,107
    The only issue I have with Reger is that, as my organ professor used to say half jokingly, he wrote too many notes.

    As for Mozart, musical genius that he was, much of his music is frilly "court" music which sold well to the self-obsessed nobility - when were they ever not self-obessed? Toward the end of his life his music seemed to take on a darker tone and I tend to like it much more. However, I wouldn't consider Mozart to be a composer of religious music.

    Franck did some lovely work with harmony and I enjoy the fact he could not stay within a key signature. How he moved from one key to another is interesting.

    Chant I like. At the same time, I realize that many congregations have shut the door on it and don't want it back. Whether it is the chant itself or the way it is often performed that is responsible for negative congregational reactions, is a topic of interest. I haven't heard good answers, only positions from myopic musicians entrenched in what they do. Good questions would be why don't people like chant and how could that be remedied? It might require doing some things differently.

    With Beethoven, like Mozart, he wasn't really a composer of religious music.
  • @M. Jackson Osborn: I would never put Franck in the same breath as Beethoven as a composer - only in his influence on those who came after. Franck built a school of French composition that rivalled Beethoven's German school, if not equalled it.
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