Ilya Rashkovskiy

Ilya Rashkovskiy
Ilya Rashkovskiy (b. 1984), pianist

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Noël Baroque – Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Les Maîtrise de Radio France, François Lazarevitch, Sofi Jeannin (Download 48kHz/24bit)

Sing Noël

By François Lazarevitch

Since the dawn of Christianity, Christmas has been celebrated with festive singing. The Christmas carol (or "noël" in French) is a song in the vernacular language, sometimes in regional dialect, celebrating the birth of Christ with colourful imagery. In the Baroque era numerous composers such as Charpentier, Delalande, Balbastre, Dandrieu and Daquin created masterpieces out of these simple tunes. Each composer brought his own imagination and skill to the harmonic development, his own invention and virtuosity to the variation form; and these features are relished by listeners to whom these songs are so familiar, having always been sung with energetic fervour around the time of the winter solstice.

When Sofi Jeannin told me of her wish to get her "Maîtrise" choir to sing Christmas music, I was delighted. For a long time I had been gathering French sources of the 17th and 18th centuries with the intention of working on baroque carol arrangements with Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien. I wanted to create something quite different from what had been done before, by treating this repertoire with proper respect: being faithful to the old sources, yet re-working the musical material to make our own personal version.

Actually, the musical sources we know today are purely instrumental, intended either for the keyboard (Raison, Balbastre, Daquin, Corrette) or for an orchestral ensemble (Charpentier, Delalande, Gervais, Corrette). There is no major baroque polyphonic church music that uses the original words of the songs, as sung by the faithfull*. So we had to copy the words from the old French "Bibles de Noël", the collections of Christmas songs – which contain only the poetic texts, briefly indicating the tune to which each one might be sung. Then in the musical sources we had to choose which versions could be best adapted both to the natural flow of the sung text, and to the polyphonic setting. For the instrumental aspect, we chose variations that ideally suited our instruments. I organized the pieces structurally according to the number of verses, sometimes marrying the instrumental variations of one composer to a vocal setting by another.

The different languages, regional dialects and accents illustrate the extraordinary diversity and cultural richness of France – as well as of "New France" – at that historical period. The two pieces from Quebec, Iesous Ahatonnia and C'est une fille muette, have come down to us as a simple monodic line of song, on which I have composed my own arrangements. Similarly, I have added extra parts for the instruments in Noël Poitevin. Finally, the carol Si c'est pour oster la vie borrows its melody from an "air de cour" in four parts by Pierre Guédron (ca. 1570-ca. 1620), with the title Si c'est pour mon pucelage. (Those curious to hear it can fi nd it, recorded by Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, on CD Alpha 167 – Et la fl eur vole: airs à danser et airs de cour autour de 1600.)

In Corelli's Christmas Concerto, the solo parts have been assigned to recorders and bassoon, instead of the original violins and cello. Our inspiration here was an arrangement of this work for two recorders and bass continuo published in England in 1725 by Walsh and Hare – an instrumentation that highlights the work's pastoral colouring.

Finding the right kind of interpretation for these "little" melodies is more diffi cult than it appears – as many of the writers of those times testify, among them Jean Rousseau (Treatise on the Viol, 1687) who declares: "There are people who imagine that to convey the tempo of a piece of music means to keep strictly in time: and yet there is a great difference between the two, for one can play in time but not enter into the spirit of the tempo: keeping strictly in time depends only on the musical notes, but the true tempo, the ‘mouvement’, depends on good taste. And one may say that there is as much difference between a musician who merely follows the beat and one who uses his intelligence as he plays, as there is between a man who can read and one who is able to recite aloud as he reads"**.

In a society where everyone dances the same dances, in the company of true fl esh-and-blood musicians, this kind of tempo is known in French as "la cadence" – the rhythm of the dance. A number of pieces in our programme are versions of the old French dance, the branle, e.g. Quand Dieu naquit à Noël – here to the tune of Quand la mer rouge apparut, a melody type still found in many traditional repertoires, notably as a round dance in the Pays de Caux.

As for the techniques of ornamentation – those of Daquin in particular – they come from the subtle and elaborate musical language of the "air de cour". While working on this project, it has really motivated me to be able to share with the "Maîtrise" choir my love of this music and my understanding of how to interpret it. I have no doubt that these small seeds we have sown will continue to grow.

* In his Midnight Mass for Christmas, Charpentier replaced the original words with the latin liturgical texts.
** Jean Rousseau: Traité de la viole – Paris, 1687.

Ο Γάλλος βιρτουόζος φλαουτίστας François Lazarevitch, ιδρυτής και μουσικός διευθυντής του συνόλου παλαιάς και μπαρόκ μουσικής Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, παρουσιάζει μια συλλογή από χριστουγεννιάτικα τραγούδια (κάλαντα), τα οποία έχει αναδημιουργήσει ο ίδιος χρησιμοποιώντας μουσικά κομμάτια Γάλλων συνθετών του 17ου και του 18ου αιώνα, καθώς και κείμενα της ίδιας περιόδου. Τη συλλογή συμπληρώνει το πιο δημοφιλές έργο του Αρκάντζελο Κορέλι, το Κοντσέρτο Γκρόσο σε Σολ ελάσσονα, έργο 6 αρ. 8, περισσότερο γνωστό ως «Χριστουγεννιάτικο Κοντσέρτο», στα σόλο μέρη του οποίου τα βιολιά και τα βιολοντσέλα έχουν αντικατασταθεί από φλάουτα με ράμφος και φαγκότο.

Τα κάλαντα ερμηνεύουν το μουσικό σύνολο Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien και η παιδική χορωδία La Maîtrise de Radio France, υπό τη διεύθυνση της βραβευμένης Σουηδής αρχιμουσικού Sofi Jeannin.

Η ηχογράφηση πραγματοποιήθηκε στο περίφημο Αμφιθέατρο της Γαλλικής Ραδιοφωνίας (Auditorium de Radio France) τον Ιανουάριο του 2015 και κυκλοφόρησε σε ψηφιακό δίσκο από την Alpha Classics το 2016.

Noël Baroque

1. Les bourgeois de Châtres [d'après Michel Corrette (1707-1795)]
2. Iesous ahatonnia [d'après Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649)]
3. Noël poitevin Au saint Nau [d'après André Raison (c. 1640-1719)]
4. Or nous dites Marie [d'après Louis-Claude Daquin (1694-1772)]
5. Quand Dieu naquit à noël [d'après Michel Corrette]
6. C'est une fille muette [Anoniem]

7. Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Concerto Grosso in G minor "Fatto per la notte di natale", Op.6 No.8
i. Vivace, Grave
ii. Allegro
iii. Adagio, Allegro, Adagio
v. Allegro
vi. Pastorale

8. À la venue de noël [d'après Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) et Charles-Hubert Gervais (1671-1744)]
9. Si c'est pour oster la vie [d'après Pierre Guédron (c. 1570-1620)]
10. Une jeune pucelle [d'après Louis-Claude Daquin]
11. Noël bressan Nos alins raconté l'histoaire [d'après Jean-François Dandrieu (1681-1738)]
12. Noël suisse Il est un petit ange [d'après Michel Corrette]

13. Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726)

14. Joseph est bien marié [d'après Marc-Antoine Charpentier et Charles-Hubert Gervais]

Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien:
Bojan Cicic, Sophie Iwamura, violons
Nicolas Sansarlat, alto
Valentin Tournet, viole de gambe
Bruno Helstroffer, théorbe, guitare
Jean Rondeau, orgue positif
Enea Sorini, baryton, tympanon, percussion
Elsa Franck, hautbois, flûte à bec
Niels Coppalle, basson, flûte à bec
François Lazarevitch, flûtes, musette, direction

Les Maîtrise de Radio France
Sofi Jeannin, direction

François Lazarevitch: conception du programme, recherche, arrangements, adaptation des paroles, édition des partitions 

Recorded in January 2015 at the Auditorium de Radio France

Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2016

Text and photos: CD Booklel

First publication: December 15, 2016 / Πρώτη δημοσίευση: 15 Δεκεμβρίου 2016
Last update: January 4, 2017 / Τελευταία ενημέρωση: 4 Ιανουαρίου 2017

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Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien

Inspired by the intimate conviction of their founder, flautist and pioneering researcher François Lazarevitch, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have been evolving since 2006 as free spirits on the paths of the Baroque, matching up oral and written sources. Their shared affi nities with traditional repertoires and musicians enriched their earliest projects and echoed a whole scholarly archipelago of early and Baroque music the same inventive feeling for colours, the same energy springing from danced movement, the same poetic sensibility. Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien awaken slumbering musical collections but not solely – in an approach both erudite and intuitive, rooted in folk practices and filtered through a demanding, virtuosic and passionate appropriation.

Everything in this alchemy is unique and identifies the ensemble even more than the reference to the brotherhood of violinist-dancers that gave it its name: the relief and elegance of the lines, the flexibility of the swaying phrasings, the richness of a rare early instrumentarium in which flutes and bagpipes stand out, the inner fire electrifying even the bestknown works of Bach or Vivaldi, the naturalness of expression, which makes every interpretation so familiar yet so new.

In the course of concerts in France and worldwide, and recordings on the Alpha Classics label, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien have reinforced a strong presence on the French and international scenes, unanimously praised by the public and specialised press alike.

Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien are in receipt of a grant-in-aid from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication – the DRAC (Regional Department of Cultural Affairs) for Normandy, and the Region of Normandy.

The Caisse des Dépôts is the official sponsor of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien.

François Lazarevitc
Although his primary instrument is the flute, from the outset, François Lazarevitch has concentrated his apprenticeships, research and musical practices on the diversity of sources, oral and written, which he deems necessary for recreating the early and Baroque repertoires today. Backed, since 2006, by the companionship of his Musiciens de Saint-Julien, to whom he passes on his craving for going ever further in comprehension, his taste for the discovery of forgotten repertoires and experimental curiosity about all cultures, he takes a singular new look at a whole chapter of our musical history. The driving force? Rhythm, this impulse born of dance and which calls more on what is felt than on what is written on paper and which must imbue all music with flexibility and in awareness. This is why his recording of Bach's Flute Sonatas (Alpha Classics, 2014, "Choc" Classica) surprises and charms with the eloquence, invention and refi nement of his art of phrasing and ornamentation.

It must be said that while François Lazarevitch tackles early music and the flute with pioneers such as Antoine Geoffroy-Dechaume, Barthold Kuijken and Pierre Séchet, he also approaches Indian music, has a passion for the Irish flute, and practices music of oral tradition with those who still perpetuate it locally. These fruitful encounters and explorations open up his own path, uncharted and demanding, which he travels, adding strings to his bow: today, he divides his time between the flute and the musette with equal virtuosity, the pastoral timbre having become emblematic of Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien. Artistic director of the ensemble, he conducts it on the French and international music scenes, recording innovative programmes for Alpha Classics, which are regularly acclaimed. He also enriches his experience through collaborations with Les Arts Florissants, Le Concert d'Astrée, Les Talens Lyriques, dancers and choreographers, stage directors and composers of today. An impassioned instrument collector and researcher, he publishes scores of unearthed repertoires. Finally, he teaches Baroque flute and musette at the Versailles Conservatory, eager to pass on what drives him: "the freedom of breath in the service of listening, understanding and energy".

La Maîtrise de Radio France

The Choir School of Radio France (La Maîtrise de Radio France) was founded in 1946 by Henry Barraud and Maurice David: it was one of the first French experiments with a system of part-time musical education. The students benefit from a timetable that allows them to follow a curriculum of general education in the morning, and musical training in the afternoon.

This children's choir, praised by Olivier Messiaen and Henri Dutilleux, is associated with the orchestras of Radio France, and is regularly requested by other orchestras such as the Philharmonia of London, the Bavarian State Opera, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. The choir is directed by orchestral conductors such as Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur, Daniele Gatti, Myung-Whun Chung, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Semyon Bychkov, Mikko Franck, and Gustavo Dudamel – while also maintaining its own concert season.

The mission of the Choir School is to promote the existing choral repertoire for children's voices, as well as commissioning scores from composers such as Iannis Xenakis, Manuel Rosenthal, Isabelle Aboulker, Julien Joubert, Alexandros Markeas, Edith Canat de Chizy, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Zad Moultaka.

The Choir School's training programme is an intensive course of choral and vocal studies, as well as lessons in piano, music theory, harmony, and the Alexander Technique. The students are recruited following nationally-held auditions, and they benefit from a completely cost-free education from elementary school right up to to the baccalaureate. In 2007 the Choir School opened a second campus in Bondy as part of the French network of priority education to combat social inequality. The students on both campuses follow the same programme of studies.

A partnership has been established with the Regional Conservatoire of Boulogne-Billancourt, to ease the students' transition to higher education after their school studies at the Choir School.

For the season 2016-2017, the Choir School continues its collaboration with the three musical institutions of Radio France: with the Philharmonic Orchestra, under musical director Mikko Franck, it will take part in Rautavaara's Lapsimessu and the now traditional Christmas Concert, and with the National Orchestra of France and the Choir of Radio France it will perform in Poulenc's Litanies à la vierge noire and Les Biches, also in Carmen, as well as at the Concert de Paris.

The Choir School has the honour of regularly collaborating with artists such as the Ensemble Pulcinella, Ibrahim Maalouf and the Choir School of Notre-Dame in Paris. It is particularly honoured to have been invited for the first time by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus for John Adams's work El Niño, conducted by the composer, at the Philharmonie in Paris.

This season the Choir School is actively pursuing its commissioning policy, with three commissions to young, talented, French composers: Joséphine Stephenson, Clément Ducol, and Olivier Calmel – with yet another commission going to composer Alexandros Markeas for the Festival Présences.

The Choir School of Radio France is supported by its main sponsor, Amundi.

Finally, the Choir School invites you to discover how it prepares for its concerts, and how its students practise their singing every day, by attending open rehearsals at the Maison de la Radio. There are also several school concerts planned for the academic year – further opportunities to come and meet the young choral singers of the "Maîtrise", the Choir School of Radio France.

Sofi Jeannin

Born in Stockholm, Sofi Jeannin studied singing and the piano in Sweden. After choral conducting studies with Bertrand Dutour de Salvert at the Conservatory of Nice, she specialised in musicology at the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm. Having won a Lavoisier Scholarship, she went to London, where she specialized in choral conducting at the Royal College of Music as a pupil of Paul Spicer.

She obtained a Master of Music in Advanced Performance, receiving the medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians for her work as a choral director, both within the Royal College and elsewhere.

While directing several British choirs, Sofi Jeannin also taught vocal technique and choral singing at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, as well as at Imperial College. She is an accredited teacher of education in the arts, and has taught choral direction at the Conservatory of Évry.

She conducted her fi rst recording for the BBC in 2006, for the British first performance of Consolation I by Helmut Lachenmann, and has guested as choral director in recordings conducted by Bernard Haitink, Peter Schreier and Sir David Willcocks.

Since March 2008 Sofi Jeannin has been the Musical Director of the Choir School of Radio France (la Maîtrise de Radio France), where she is responsible for the teaching and artistic training of 180 pupils. She has given numerous first performances of works for equal voices, and has collaborated with conductors such as Daniele Gatti, Myung-Whun Chung, Kurt Masur, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andris Nelsons, Mikko Franck, Semyon Bychkov, Bertrand de Billy and Peter Eötvös.

Since 2006 she has been chief guest conductor of the Arad Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. In 2010 she conducted the Stockholm Concert Orchestra, and since 2011 she has frequently conducted the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France and the French National Orchestra. She has accepted invitations to conduct St Jacob's Chamber Choir in Stockholm and the Victor Hugo Orchestra in Franche-Comté. In April 2014 she conducted the Choir of Radio France for the first time.

In 2015 Sofi Jeannin was appointed to the post of Musical Director of the Choir of Radio France, the largest professional symphonic choir in Europe.

In 2009 she was awarded the honour of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2012 was appointed to the rank of Knight of the Order of Academic Palms.

See also

Carols with St Paul's Cathedral Choir – Andrew Carwood, Simon Johnson (Audio video)

In Nativitate Domine: Festliche Weihnachtsmusik – Emma Kirkby, Susanne Rydén, Annegret Siedel (Audio video)

Heinrich Schütz: Christmas Vespers – Gabrieli Consort & Players, Paul McCreesh (Audio video)

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