- St Cecilia’s Mass
French composer Charles Gounod is best known
to modern TV-bred audiences for his impudent Funeral March
of a Marionette, which was adapted for the theme music
to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents show. (Listen).
To opera lovers he is also revered for his adaptations of
Goethe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s Romeo
and Juliet. However his first critical success came before
any of these works were penned, and the praise came not from
French, but from English critics, after the debut of his first
serious work, the Messe Solonelle in G, nowadays
known as the St Cecilia Mass, in St Martin’s
Hall, London. “Within our experience,” gushed
The Atheneum, “we do not remember any first
appearance under parallel circumstances… It is the poetry
of a new poet." Four years later the Mass was met with
similar critical acclaim in Paris, and a star of classical
music was born.
Tonight’s rendition of the Mass in St Leonard’s
Church in Seaford is a rather unconventional affair. All-comers
are invited to join the church’s well-practiced choir
in this Easter rendition of Gounod’s much-loved work.
There was a practice run-through of the work on April 10th;
there will be a further rehearsal two hours before the performance.
Those who do not wish to participate in the singing can turn
up simply to listen to the main event, though it would be
a pity not to join in, particularly in the crescendo and fortissimo
after the second part of the Sanctus solo. Classical karaoke?
Should be a scream. AL