Gounod: "Mors et Vita", epilogue, and "Oro supplex", for quartet and organ

Elsa Dreisig, Kate Aldrich, Yosep Kang, Patrick Bolleire, Olivier Latry and the Orchestre National de France, conducted by Jesko Sirvend, perform two excerpts from "Mors et Vita" by Charles Gounod: the epilogue and the quartet with organ. Excerpt from the Gounod Gala on 16 June 2018.

Little is known about the period and circumstances of the composition of Mors and Vita, perhaps started in August 1882 following the creation of La Rédemption at the Birmingham Festival and completed in the spring of 1884, to be premiered in this same city on August 30, 1885. "I have placed death before life, because in the order of eternal things, death precedes life, whereas it is different in life, whereas in the order of temporal things, Death is only the end of an existence that dies a little every day. But this is the first moment and, in fact, the birth of what never dies", wrote Gounod in his preface. The work in three parts offers a progression from momentary mourning to eternal bliss, "namely the tears that death makes us shed here below, the hopes of a better life (Part 1: Requiem), the solemn fear of an infallible justice (Part 2: Judgment of the elected and the excluded), the tender and filial trust in an eternal Love (Part 3: Vision of the Celestial Jerusalem). Taken from the Sequence of the Requiem, the Oro Supplex is one of the last supplications that the deceased soul addresses to his Judge: "Prostrate, supplicating, I pray, my heart reduced to ashes; take into your hands my supreme fate." The tenor's voice continues to rise like his prayer, leaving the downward inflections of the bassoon to suggest "prostrate, supplicant, I pray," and to the chromaticism and biting pizzicati the care of expressing pain ("the heart reduced to ashes"), likewise for the mezzo and the English horn; the entry of the two other voices alters the relationship between the text and the music by freely using polyphonic resources. 

Brief and condensed, the Epilogue crowns the ninety minutes of the Requiem with a powerful orchestral peroration, of which he recalls and confronts the principal motifs. 

Gounod gala: overtures and operatic airs by the Orchestre National de France, with Dreisig, Devos, Aldrich and Kang
Full concert
Gounod gala: overtures and operatic airs by the Orchestre National de France, with Dreisig, Devos, Aldrich and Kang
Auditorium de la Maison de la Radio
Charles Gounod
All artists
  • Orchestre National de FranceOrchestra
  • Olivier LatryPerformer