La Semaine Mystique (The Mystical Week)

Spiritual Parodies from Court Airs
A Staged Concert



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Today, the study of 18th-century devotional music necessarily brings us into the personal sphere, at the point where the dissensions which characterize this troubled epoch culminate: the individual. His mind crossed by contrary currents that he did not always understand, prone to radical doubts in the areas of belief and of ethics, the "Baroque man" was confronted with choices that are still ours today: Innovation or tradition? Science or religion? The group or the individual? Antagonistic pairs can thus infinitely multiply.

An oration in musical form, the spiritual parody perfectly incarnates this indecision: singing, a source of spiritual elevation as much as of sensuality, can swing the soul of the sinner - a wobbly tightrope walker - from salvation to damnation. The Jesuits, directors of the consciences of numerous sanctimonious members of the aristocracy, knew how to use  – without qualms  –  what the arts best disposed of in the matter of sensual pleasure as instruments of salvation.

The setting we used to structure this concert was the method written by a Capuchin turned Jesuit monk, Philippe d'Angoumois, as he describes it in his "Continual Occupation in Which the Devout Soul Unites Itself With God," a 1618 treatise destined for ladies in fashionable society. He recommends meditating every day of the week on a religious subject in order to introduce spiritual mysteries into everyday earthly life. Our program, after a little catechism destined for children and a severe condemnation of lascivious song, follows this form of thematic sermons. We trace an imaginary spiritual itinerary: that of a soul in love with salvation. Running the length of his "mystical week," from meditation on his sins (Monday) to the contemplation of the glories of Paradise (Sunday), from fractures of the heart to interior healing, from primordial Chaos to the Harmony of the spheres which attempts to erect a rampart of Faith against the destructive forces of a century prone to rifts.

  • Music by  Robert Ballard, Antoine Boësset, Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, Pierre Guédron and Étienne Moulinié
  • Texts of  Lazare de Selve, Jean Auvray and Jean de La Ceppède
  • FAENZA, under the direction of Marco Horvat

  • Olga PITARCH : vocals
  • Brigitte VINSON : vocals
  • Serge GOUBIOUD : vocals
  • Marco HORVAT : vocals and lute
  • Marc MAUILLON : vocals
  • Renaud DELAIGUE : vocals
  • Massimo MOSCARDO : lute and tiorbino
  • Pascale BOQUET : lute and guitar
  • Recitation by Marco Horvat

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Translations by Sally Gordon Mark

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