Friday, December 15, 2006

Critical Mass: Cantate Domino canticum novum!

I was cruising the internet today, when I came across the interview from L'espresso last July with maestro Domenico Bartolucci. The former choir director of the Sistine Chapel was unceremoniously dismissed by curial operatives of the late Pope John Paul II. Happily, he is making a comeback, with gratitude to the one prelate who came to his defense, the man once known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

The interview is most enlightening for those with a great love of the musical heritage of the Church, particularly Gregorian chant, and polyphony in the tradition of Palestrina (with whose works I fell in love during my years with the choir of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown). There was one quotation in particular, that very much caught my eye:

"Gregorian chant has been distorted by the rhythmic and aesthetic theories of the Benedictines of Solesmes. Gregorian chant was born in violent times, and it should be manly and strong, and not like the sweet and comforting adaptations of our own day."

As far as I'm concerned, you could start by laying off the organ to lead the schola, or for that matter, the people themselves. The chant was not meant to be accompanied, let alone overladen, even by such a noble instrument. In any case, as one who cannot imagine not giving some credit to Solesmes for the revival of Gregorian chant in the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries (which in the eyes of many heralds the true beginning of the liturgical movement), this is a curious remark.

Inasmuch as I could use some light reading for the weekend, I printed this one out for further study.


Dad29 said...

You can simply ignore his comments about Bruckner.

It's no surprise that he was not universally loved in Rome. And it's no surprise that a number of church musicians--even conservatives--did not spend days in sackcloth and ashes mourning his dismissal.

Dad29 said...

And another thing...

His thought that Chant should resemble Sousa's work is.....odd, no?

Chant is unlike almost any other music in that it is NOT 'feminine' NOR 'masculine.' It transcends those earthly bounds.

The good Mgr. would drag it back here; not a position which would be endorsed by B-16.

But it fits with his choir-directing technique: Bellow!! Bellow Louder!!