GILES VIGNEAULT and BRUNO FECTEAU: Grand Mass – Suzie Leblanc, soprano/ Daniel Taylor (counter-tenor)/ Antoine Belanger, tenor/ Olivier Laquerre, bass-baritone/ Quebec Chorus and Symphony Orchestra/ Richard Lee, conductor – CBC

by | May 23, 2009 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

GILES VIGNEAULT and BRUNO FECTEAU: Grand Mass – Suzie Leblanc, soprano/ Daniel Taylor (counter-tenor)/ Antoine Belanger, tenor/ Olivier Laquerre, bass-baritone/ Quebec Chorus and Symphony Orchestra/ Richard Lee, conductor – CBC SMCD 5248, 33:54 *** [Distr. by Naxos]:

The notes for this release are all in French (is this some kind of statement by composer Vigneault, a noted Quebecian nationalist and sovereigntist?), so I had to do some digging in order to come up with anything. For in-depth info and needed instructions on acquiring this disc, a broadcast from the 2008 Quebec Festival of Sacred Music, please see https://www.festivalmusiquesacree.ca/eng/grand-messe.htm. All others hearken briefly (this I grabbed from Wikipedia):

“Born in Natashquan, on the far north shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, he was educated in Rimouski and Quebec City. Vigneault started writing poetry during his studies at the Seminary in Rimouski, and by the 1950s was publishing poems and writing songs. In 1959 he founded a publishing house, Les Éditions de l’Arc to distribute his publications. His first collection, Étraves was published in 1959.

In August 1960, at the request of the audience at the boîte à chansons L’Arlequin in Quebec City, he agreed to sing his earliest song: Jos Monferrand, written in 1957, which had been recorded by Jacques Labrecque in 1959. This was the beginning of his singing career which culminated in 1962, when he received the Grand prix du disque from Montreal radio station CKAC. His reputation grew in Quebec and elsewhere with the success of his song Mon Pays, from the sound track of the NFB film La neige a fondu sur la Manicouagan (1965). In 1976, the Ensemble Claude Gervaise recorded an album of Vigneault’s music entitled Tout l’monde est malheureux: "Claude Gervaise" Joue Vigneault. An ardent Quebec nationalist, Vigneault was disappointed by the results of the 1980 Quebec referendum. During the 1980s he lived in France for a short time.”

This is more than CBC deserves for marketing this disc in the US with no English support. I could find nothing in English about co-composer Bruno Fecteau, and wasn’t going to spend hours hunting for it.  And the big shame is that there is wonderfully ebullient and utterly lyrical music here, one of the nicest and most pleasant sounding masses of its type that I have heard. The work just oozes lyricism, and comforts in the way that the Faure Requiem does. The sound, soloists, chorus, and orchestra are all superb. So why three stars? Because we need to be able to understand the notes, 34 minutes is really skimpy (whether this is full price or not, I don’t know), and the ordering information is anything but clear, so deduct one for lousy production values. But the music is terrific.

— Steven Ritter

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