O.C., C.Q., O.M.
Angèle Dubeau has pursued a career as a classical musician for over 45 years and has played in as many countries, always with the same passion, zest and generosity. [...]
A violinist, composer and critic, Felix Borowski (1872-1956) was born in England but lived most of his life in Chicago. The author of several scholarly works, he has also composed many works for strings, including Adoration, which has become a standard work for the violin.
A contemporary of Franck, Charles Gounod (1818-1893) was also a prolific composer of sacred music, and in his lifetime was actually a more popular composer than his Belgian colleague. His Ave Maria, a religious melody adapted to the first prelude of Johann Sebastian Bach, was first composed for solo voice and piano in 1859 — a year which, incidentally, saw the great success of his now famous opera Faust. Gounod later arranged the piece for voice, violin obbligato and piano, and, since then, it has remained one of his most popular compositions.
J.S. Bach (1685-1750) wrote several sacred cantatas for various vocal and instrumental combinations, each designed for a specific Sunday of the liturgical year. In these works, chorals for voices or instruments are included in order to inspire the expression of faith among the congregation. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is one of the most famous of Bach’s chorales and has been the subject of many transciptions and adaptations. The Arioso which opens the Cantata No. 156, is one of Bach’s most touching melodies. Originally the slow movement of a lost obœ concerto, it is also the slow movement of Bach’s Concerto No. 5, in F minor, for keyboard.
Born in Liège, César Franck (1822-1890) served as organist in various small churches in Paris, before being appointed regular organist at the famous Église Sainte-Clotilde in 1858. Two years later, he composed a Mass for three voices to which he added, in 1872, this “Panis Angelicus” for solo tenor, organ and harp. This piece has become the best known of his sacred works.
Little is known of the life and career of the Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), except that he was self-taught and a friend of Berlioz and Verdi. The “Sanctus” is a good example of Fauré’s both mystical and intimate treatment of the subject of death.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was not only a prolific composer but also a brilliant virtuoso of the piano and the organ and a most sought-after teacher. From 1857 to 1877, he was organist at the famous church of La Madeleine in Paris. His dramatic and sacred music was praised by Franz Liszt and Berlioz. Several of his major works were inspired by the Bible, such as his oratorio Le Déluge and his famous opera Samson and Dalila.
Le Déluge was composed in 1875, and is remembered today chiefly for the impressive violin solo in its instrumental introduction. The Prière, Op. 158, is one of the composer’s last works, and was scored for organ accompanied by either violin or cello.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed his Ave Maria in April, 1825 as a hymn to the Virgin Mary, using a text from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. These words are now generally disregarded in favor of the Latin text of the Ave Maria, or its various translations. The well-known arrangement for violin by August Wilhelmy has been popular throughout the years.
© Gilles Potvin