Hola a todos. The choral music was particularly good for the Third Sunday of Lent (2017) at La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (Roman Catholic). They don’t often have a Cathedral Choir at Notre-Dame, but rather a small group of mic’d choristers. What they do works well, but it would be nice to have a full Cathedral Choir (which they once had) as there are descants and more elaborate settings of the service music they usually use when they have a full Choir which adds more to their superb High Church Liturgies.
For this Liturgy, there was a Quartet of well-selected, blended voices that provided the service music and anthem selections. The two women’s voices matched perfectly and fortunately no one sang with vibrato, which is not always the case at Notre-Dame. The Quartet sang mostly Early Music/Renaissance and it was lovely. It worked especially nice in that medieval Roman setting of their Liturgy.
This is a High Church Liturgy — the best I’ve seen anywhere, and they have the most splendidly trained acolytes and thurifers who are also very devout — which is the reason I and mi amigo/my friend watch it. And the priests are most respectful of and serious about their Liturgy including the use of incense (we love the incense!), unlike another cathedral church I used to write about. We find Notre-Dame very enjoyable, relaxing and calming.
If you’re Anglican, for Lent you might notice that the crucifix in the procession at Notre-Dame is not shrouded in purple cloth as Anglicans do. The Roman Catholics don’t do that. Also, at Notre-Dame de Paris they sing all parts of the Messe/Mass setting in Latin. The rest of the Liturgy is in Français. The Romans bless themselves when the processional crucifix passes in the procession instead of bowing as devout Anglicans do, although I do see some people in the congregation bowing on occasion, but most don’t. They bless themselves instead. They also bless themselves when Cardinal André Vingt-Trois (or the priest celebrating Messe that particular day) blesses them in the processional and recessional.
They have two organists for their Domingo/Sunday Messe/Mass. There’s the superb Titulaire organist (there are 3 of those: Vincent Dubois, Olivier Latry and Philippe Lefebvre) who alternate throughout the year playing the Grand Orgue high up in the back of the Nave, roughly up on the third-fourth story of the Cathedral I guess one could say. There’s also the Choir organists (there are 3 of those too) who alternate playing the Choir Orgue and he accompanies the choristers. The two organists for each Messe/Mass alternate in their playing during the Messe. By that, I mean that the Grand Orgue accompanies the congregation and the Choir Orgue accompanies the choristers so one organist plays one part and the other organist plays another all in the same piece of music. And if you didn’t know any better you’d think it was all one organ playing because the two organs are so well matched and the organists are so talented that they play seamlessly together (so to speak), one playing and then the other. The Nave is always full for their High Church Messe on Domingo/Sunday. One Cathedral Church that I have in mind could learn from them. Here’s the Liturgy:
And speaking of the Titulaire organist, pay special attention to his improvisation during the recessional. For this Messe, Vincent Dubois, played the Grand Orgue. He also serves as General Director of the Strasbourg National and Superior Conservatory of Music in France. I and others who watch the Messe from Notre-Dame do not understand why KTO TV, the Roman Catholic Television Network, which records the Liturgies disrespect the organists by turning off the camera before the Organ Sortie is completed, as if they don’t consider it important. Several people have complained about this but nothing is done about it. They also don’t turn on the cameras early enough at the very beginning when the organists starts his organ improvisation. Again, as if they don’t consider it important. But you know, something tells me that if a priest began the Messe by speaking, that camera would start recording from the moment he began speaking. I have found that it’s most typical of camera crews in this context to disrespect the music regardless of which church it is. Also, I’ve wondered why there isn’t a stationary or hand-held camera at the organ console of the Grand Orgue so viewers can watch the organist? But upon reflection, why should I expect that when KTO TV’s production crew doesn’t seem to fully respect the music as I’ve already pointed out? Chau.—el barrio rosa