Charpentier: Messe à 4 Choeurs [Mass for 4 choirs]

Duration : 41 minutes

The Radio France Children's Choir, conducted by Sofi Jeannin, and the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, conducted by Olivier Schneebeli, perform the "Messe à 4 Choeurs" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Concert recorded live on 21 February at the Radio France Auditorium.

Amongst the twelve masses preserved in the handwritten manuscripts of Marc-Antoine Charpentier, the Messe à 4 Choeurs [Mass for 4 choirs] is a unique work, both by its structure and by its musical conception. It is probably that the work was composed in the early 1670s, shortly after the return of the composer from Italy, where he had encountered Carissimi, hence his style influenced by Roman polychoral masses. There is nothing to indicate, however, that Charpentier was able to have her executed. 

One particular feature of the work is the placement of the choirs, in the shape of (oh how symbolic) a cross. The audience, placed at the heart of this cross, is enveloped by this aural architecture, in which the four choral dialogues eventually merge into one impressive tutti, giving the effect of an acoustic submersion. This is a recurring style of composition in this work, in which, such as the Kyrie, each choir exposes separately the main theme before the dialogue between the choirs is tightened until the different prayers come together into one unanimous sound.

Ave verum corpus H233
Agnus dei
Domine salvum fac regem

Concert Charpentier/Hersant, par le Centre de musique baroque de Versailles et la Maîtrise de Radio France
Full concert
Charpentier / Hersant performed by the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles & Radio France Children's Choir
Maison de la Radio, Paris
Marc-Antoine Charpentier
All artists
  • Maîtrise de Radio FranceChoir