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CD booklet
Musique sacrée en Nouvelle-France

Toronto Early Music Centre
December 19, 2017

This CD was originally recorded in France in 1995 and released by the French boutique label K617 under the title Le Chant de la Jérusalem des terres froides. Its an excellent historical document and surly deserves re-release not the least of which it is an fine eulogy, to the late and great artistic pioneer Christopher Jackson (1948-2015). Early 17th century French music recorded by Geoffroy, Martin, Aux-Cousteaux and Frémart was almost totally unheard of in 1995, even in France.

The list of composers is prodigious and is a testament to the quality of music scene in early Québec from the beginning of the pioneer settlements in the early 17th century, until the colony changed hands in 1759, to the English. The list includes Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, Henry Du Mont, Artus Aux-Cousteaux (v.1590-1656), Charles-Amador Martin (1648-1711), André Campra, Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers, Nicolas Lebègue, Henri Frémart (v1585-1651) and the ubiquitous Anonymous. All the music on the disc is found in original manuscripts that are still extant in Québec from the period, including the famous Livre d'orgue de Montréal. Included are pieces sung in the Native Odanak language, that were originally prepared by Jesuit clergy, for the Québec tribe's religious services.

The seventeen selections include complete works, Organ solos, two Motets for Soprano and Organ, Plain-Chant and excerpts from original sources that give the listener an overview of the period quality in Québec parishes. A quote from L'Abbé Jacques Navière, who was parish priest of Sainte Anne-de-Beaupré from 1734-1740 reads, “I sing the mass and vespers on Sundays and holidays. In very many collegiate churches in France the mass in not celebrated with quite so much ceremony.” This monumental recording testifies to the musical life of Nouvelle-France and the exemplary career of Christopher Jackson and his group Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal.

© Paul-James DWYER - Toronto Early Music Centre 

The WholeNote
October 27, 2017

This recording is a re-issue of a 1995 album originally titled Le Chant de la Jerusalem des terres froides on the French label K617. At the time, founding member Christopher Jackson (1948-2015) directed Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. The program represents sacred music from the daily life of 17th-century French settlements in the New World. Books of plainchant brought to New France were utilized in church services, but also formed the basis of a new style, adopted in both new and old worlds, which added ornamentation borrowed from secular repertoire. Mass excerpts by Henry du Mont, based in Paris, serve as excellent examples of this practice.

In addition to Gregorian chant, books of petit motets were also brought to New France. Composed for soloists (or for no more than three voices) with chamber instrumentation, this proved much easier to realize in the colonies than the grand motet, which required large forces. Composers of the form such as Nicolas Lebègue and André Campra are represented on this recording, highlighting the divinely sweet persuasion of the small ensemble. Two of the pieces, Inviolata and Ego sum panis vivus, are examples of the petit motet translated into the Algonquin Abenaki dialect to abet religious conversion of the Native population. The choir and soloists’ exquisite renderings throughout the CD bring the history to life, enhanced by organist Réjean Poirier’s performances of pieces from Livre d’orgue de Montréal.

Dianne Wells – The WholeNote
 

ICI Musique
October 13, 2017

Pendant qu’en Europe, Monteverdi écrivait ses madrigaux et avant même que Bach ne compose ses cantates et ses oratorios, quelle musique s’écrivait ici, en Nouvelle-France? C’est ce que nous fait entendre le Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal (SMAM) sur l’album Musique sacrée en Nouvelle-France.

C’est une musique étonnamment sophistiquée qu’on entend sur cet album. Dans une colonie à peine naissante où tout, ou presque, devait manquer, il est évident que l’art musical (essentiellement religieux, il faut le dire) était pris au sérieux. Qui plus est, quand vous avez le Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal qui donne le souffle de vie à ces pièces d’une beauté insoupçonnée, vous ne pouvez qu’avoir ici les conditions idéales d’une floraison musicale charmante.

Il est fascinant d’apprendre, de plus, qu’environ 160 livres de musiques de cette époque ont survécu jusqu’à nos jours dans les archives des diverses communautés religieuses de la Nouvelle-France. C’est dire que la musique a des racines profondément enfouies dans notre terreau national!

Cet album, une réédition d’une parution de 1995 sous la défunte étiquette K617 (le titre était alors Le chant de la Jérusalem des terres froides) est l’occasion parfaite de mieux connaître nos racines musicales lointaines, très lointaines.

Frédéric Cardin – ICI Musique