The Basilica of Saint Clotilde, Paris houses the famous 1859 Aristide Cavaillé-Coll organ played by an impressive succession of organists serving the basilica. This Sunday morning we hear compositions by three of these gentlemen: Jean Langlais, Théodore Dubois, and St. Clotilde's first Organiste titulaire, César Franck.
Franck served St. Clotilde from 1859 until his death in 1890. The exquisite tonal palette of the organ, considered the crowning achievement of the Cavaillé-Coll family at the time, provided endless inspiration to Franck's substantial contributions to the organ repertoire. His set of Six Pièces, composed between 1860-62, is to this day a staple of the organ oeuvre. "Cantabile," so named for the singing quality of the oboe stop melody, begins the services.
Théodore Dubois served the basilica as assistant organist (1858) and choirmaster (1863) until his appointment to the Madeleine Church in 1869, succeeding Camille Saint-Saëns. It is from this later period that we hear two settings of "Communion" from his liturgical collection Dix pièces pour orgue ou harmonium.
In the 20th century, Jean Langlais held the post of Organiste titulaire at St. Clotilde from 1945-1988. A prolific composer with 254 published works, his style exhibited Gregorian chant-like themes, modal harmonies, and adventurous dissonances. "Pasticcio," from Langlais' Organ Book (1957), closes the services. In music terminology, a pasticcio is a work that intentionally borrows from other composers or eras, in this case, the Medieval era.
The Chancel Choir sings an exuberant and highly imaginative setting of Psalm 27 in "The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation" by Rosephanye Powell at the 11:00 a.m. "choral" service. Pianist Danielle Snyder joins us in this wonderful rendition of the psalmist's joyful proclamation of God's enduring love and wisdom.
At the 6:00 p.m. "eclectic" service, cantor Blair Carpenter and I offer a "swampier" take on the Rosephanye Powell anthem along with music by Kacey Musgraves and David Haas.