Ouverture spirituelle • Transfiguration
published in: Concert
|Louise Bourgois, THE INSOMNIA DRAWINGS (March 19, 1995), 1994-1995, Detail from 220 mixed media works on paper of varying dimensions, Daros Collection, Switzerland © The Easton Foundation/Bildrecht, W|
‘His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light’, comments the Gospel of Matthew. The miraculous transfiguration of Jesus allowed the apostles to apprehend his divine nature, which transcended the boundaries of this world. Of all the arts, music may well most convincingly convey the feeling of an experience that goes beyond our material realm, promising a better state of being and the revelation of our true essence, freed from worldly constraints.
Sacred music, religiously inspired works and sounds which escape from earthly bonds will spark off one another in this year’s Ouverture spirituelle: from the vocal polyphony of the Renaissance to baroque, classical and romantic repertoire, and beyond, to the music of the twentieth century. With varying trajectories, the works chosen all revolve around the central idea of transfiguration. In Olivier Messiaen’s Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ for soloists, chorus and orchestra – an explosion of ringing light and blazing sounds – the term even appears in the title. The radiance of this work emanates throughout the rest of the programme, perhaps reaching its greatest potency in sacred spaces and the darkness of night. For this reason, some concerts are removed from the usual hustle and bustle of the Festival and scheduled to begin at a later hour.
We shall also join Monteverdi’s Orpheus as he descends to the underworld to rescue Eurydice, and perhaps our own senses of perception will themselves be transfigured by music which depicts the crossing of this same final threshold – specifically, music from great last works fully completed or left unfinished, including Mozart’s Requiem, the Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil by Gérard Grisey and Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony with its dying final pages, in which the musical line is slowly extinguished.
Translated by Sebastian Smallshaw