Treasures of 20th-Century French Sacred Music
Sunday, July 10, 2011
With Bastille Day on July 14, Kent Tritle highlights the exorbitant output of choral music from France. The sacred music of Francis Poulenc joins pieces by Langlais, Messiaen, Widor and much more.
Francis Poulenc composed his Quatre Petites Prieres des Saint Francois d’Assise in 1948 and dedicated the work to his great-nephew, a monk and chorister at the Champfleury. Poulenc, who is known for combining his unique harmonic language with older compositional styles, accomplished just that in his work for a cappella male chorus. The work is divided into four movements which are prayers and based on the spiritual exercises of Saint Francis.
When asked about his inspiration for the work Poulenc stated: "I honor Saint Francis, but he is a little intimidating. At any rate, I wanted my musical settings of his poignant little prayers to be an exercise in humility." Poulenc draws on the early styles of polyphony and plainchant, adding his palatable harmonic flair to this stylistically primal work.