Seeds of Modernism

By | May 1, 2024

Seeds of Modernism

  • Charles Gounod — Messe Breve no. 7
  • Anton Bruckner – “Windhaager” Messe
  • César Franck – Psalm 150
  • Gabriel Fauré — Cantique de Jean Racine, Messe Basse, Tantum Ergo

David Neiweem, Conductor

Saturday, May 11th, 2024, 7:30 PM
College Street Congregational Church, 265 College St. Burlington
Accessible entrance is near the corner of College and Union.
Tickets $25, $10 for students, available at sevendaystickets.com and at the door.

 

In this concert, we explore the evolution of choral music in the Romantic period that paved the way to Modernism.

After the fall of the French empire, French composers began to break away from the traditions of Classical style, using more personal expression, lush and adventuresome harmonic expression, a re-thinking of musical form, and a sensitivity to the sounds of nature. The search for “something new” led them and their audiences to embrace choral music that was less formal.

This progression is particularly evident in our three offerings of music by Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924). The celebrated “Cantique de Jean Racine” (1865), was one of his earliest works and embodies lush Romantic harmony in a rather conventional form. The setting of “Tantum Ergo” (1894), written nearly 30 years later, is more intentionally chromatic, recasting conventional harmonic language. Finally, the Messe Basse (completed 1906) is essentially a Modern work, transforming the melodic and harmonic expression of the words of the Mass into a language far distant from the Cantique of 40 years before.

We will also perform two other settings of the Mass, by Charles Gounod (1818–1893) and by the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824–1896). These works are less restrictive formally, and stretch the expectations of 19th-century listeners with more deep expression and increasingly chromatic music, moving away from the conventions of Romanticism.

Audiences of today have heard it all: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary style. Audiences 125 years ago were hearing a slow transition from formal and “conventional” music to more personal, inventive, and innovative choral music.
— DN