Les 7 Paroles de N.S. Jesus-Christ Sur la Croix / Prière du Soir
Invocation / Salut Printemps / Printemps / Rêverie
Calme des Nuits
3 beaux oiseaux (du paradis) / Pavane pour une infante défunte
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‘Ecce Homo’! The words spoken by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate when presenting Jesus, with a bloodied face and wearing a crown of thorns, to the people. Legendary words that even after so many centuries still convey a powerful message. The perfect title, therefore, for a programme that looks at the human being, his actions and behaviours, his acts – good and evil – and sorrows, as well as joys and frivolity.
Just as the image of Christ with the crown of thorns was a standard theme throughout the history of Western art, the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the cross served as a source of inspiration for many composers. They include Charles-François Gounod, whose liturgical works are often stark yet romantic in nature. Gounod also laid the groundwork for a typically French style of music, which composers such as Saint-Saëns, Debussy and Ravel developed further in the Impressionist period. Debussy’s Printemps presents a wide range of impressions of a ‘human’ spring, from the emotions that well up when nature slowly comes to life, through a joyful outburst upon beholding all that new life. From the exuberant to the Calme des Nuits, a song cycle that Camille Saint-Saëns dedicated to Gounod. The stillness of night time and the beauty of nature bring consolation, a consolation that Maurice Ravel may also have sought when composing his Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis just before leaving for the front during the war. And so the The Seven Last Words by Gounod echo through all these different impressions, as a meditation on the human being and his or her existence.
Hervé Niquet, conductor
Jan Michiels, piano
Inge Spinette, piano