Philippe Herreweghe conducts Monteverdi, Pärt and Messiaen

World premiere of Pärt’s “Für Jan van Eyck” — Collegium Vocale Gent

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Maude Gratton — Organist

Collegium Vocale Gent — Choir

Philippe Herreweghe — Conductor

Program notes

Philippe Herreweghe and the Collegium Vocale Gent join forces with pipe-organ soloist Maude Gratton in the historic setting of Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent to perform an exquisite program, featuring the world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Annum per annum, Für Jan van Eyck, alongside sacred compositions by Claudio Monteverdi, Anton Bruckner, and Olivier Messiaen.

In 2020, Flanders paid tribute to the exceptional Renaissance artist Jan van Eyck, renowned for his innovations in oil painting and optical perspective. Rich in detail and ablaze with color, the painter’s religious artwork is rooted in the International Gothic style, yet places significant emphasis on naturalism and realism. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt took Van Eyck’s recently restored Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (1432), a polyptych altarpiece depicting heavenly redemption and saintly gatherings around the lamb of God, as the primary inspiration for his musical work. Powerful sustained chords and ringing sonorities contrast with shimmering polyphonic passages, as Gratton gives a virtuosic performance of an extraordinary, modernist composition.

The program then swiftly transitions to reflective choral works, as the dulcet yet mystical melodies of Monteverdi’s Kyrie, Sanctus-Benedictus, and Agnus dei from his Missa a quattro voci da cappella (1641) echo across the cathedral. The Collegium Vocale Gent also provides a spell-binding and ethereal rendition of Bruckner’s sacred motets, Locus iste (1869) and Os justi (1879).

The concert concludes much like it began, with Messiaen’s Dieu parmi nous (God Among Us) from La nativité du Seigneur (The Nativity of the Lord) for solo organ. Emblematic of the coloristic harmony and rhythmic complexity that so characterize the composer’s style, Gratton’s rendition of Dieu parmi nous creates a sonic image of monumental power. 

A closer look: featured composers

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