Session filmed, broadcast and recorded live in a studio without any audience.
It took place in Paris on June 11, 2009.
Sound engineers: François Eckert.
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Today, Philippe Herreweghe is a revered master. Sticking to this, is to forget his involvement in a musical revolution that broke out in the 70's and turned its back on habits over a century old. Until the XIXth century, one does not interpret; one executes. There is no room for interpretation, the music is set to paper and the style of play conforms to each particular period's tradition. The notion of interpretation – i.e. the appropriation of the work by the interpret, is a construction of the XIXth century that proceeds from Romantic principles: the interpret reaches the same footing as the composer, and becomes a creator himself as he gives the music a shape and a meaning. There is no inconsistency in interpreting a Renaissance, baroque, or classical piece with Romantic hubris. Music from various periods are interpreted on more or less the same mode.
During the 70's, as a reaction to this standardization, Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Philippe Herreweghe and others, make an attempt to offer a Puritan idea of interpretation. To them, the true meaning of a work ties to its original context. Hence the idea of going back to the basics, the score itself. The new interpret abandons his creator status to become a faithful servant of the score.
The pursuit of musical authenticity is questionable and disputed. Weird fundamentalists speak out for the sake of authenticity, in spite of what common sense dictates – fidelity to the score alone does not make for a good interpret. Philippe Herreweghe never sought to convert a majority: to him, this whole affair is a simple question of taste.
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Even as the Spanish call him the “luz de España en la música”, Sevillan composer Cristobal de Moralès is widely considered a foreigner by his countrymen. Finding himself at the right place, at the right time, he spends ten years in Rome between 1535 and 1545, as a singer for the Sistine Chapel. This is the period when he composes his Missa de Beata Vergine. In Italy, modern printing is already in full swing, and Moralès is quick to take advantage of it. He takes in hand all aspects of the printing of his own works, from paper format to the way it is to be distributed abroad. He even goes to the length of protecting his author rights by drawing up a written contract, a practice barely used at the time. His name starts to spread throughout Europe, but his return to Spain in 1545 is not as successful as expected. He puts up with trouble of various kind and disappointing positions as maestro de capilla: the singers' indiscipline, and a general lack of consideration, get to him. Illness is another impediment that hinders him more and more in his work, and he eventually succumbs at the age of 53.
His skill in attracting the attention of an international audience goes hand in hand with a musical genius that sealed his reputation for the centuries to come. Moralès achieves the synthesis of leading musical currents: Mediterranean melody and pious French and Flemish polyphony. Inspired more specifically by the character of Mary, Moralès composes several works in her praise. Where certain masses of the time were derived from bawdy popular airs, this Missa de Beata Vergine adapts Gregorian melodies – yesterday's sampling. First released in Venice in 1540, then in Rome in 1544, it is dedicated to Moralès' employer, pope Paul III, a great admirer of music.
Moralès was deeply committed to the ties between music and the text, and the way they supplement each other – a connection that just happens to be a major focus of Philippe Herreweghe's conductor career. A man of deep spirituality without attachment to any particular faith, he has specialized in those works where the lines are blurred and a higher design shines through.
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