Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

composer
1952
author of text
Nos 1 & 2: Matins Reponsories for Christmas Day; No 3: Antiphon for the Octave of the Epiphany; No 4: Vespers Antiphon on Christmas Day

 
These exquisite miniatures paint four colourful scenes from the nativity story. O magnum mysterium is the most profound: slow and (by Poulenc’s standards) harmonically austere, it grows in intensity toward the final repetition of the main text, via an intimate verse in praise of the Virgin. The text of Quem vidistis makes two demands of the shepherds, set in contrasting ways by Poulenc. ‘Who did you see?’ is a cantilène accompanied by searching quaver movement; by contrast, the imperative ‘Speak … and proclaim the birth of Christ’ is a trumpet blast worthy of the annunciatory angels themselves. The crystalline refrain of Videntes stellam evokes a placid and (of course) starlit night, through which the Magi travel with burgeoning excitement; this reaches a rich climax as they enter the stable and present their gifts; outside the star shines on, undisturbed. In the final motet, Hodie Christus natus est, the faithful make their response to the news with unbuttoned exuberance: ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ accompanied by popping champagne corks.

from notes by Robert Quinney © 2008

Recordings

A Christmas Caroll from Westminster Abbey
CDA67716
Poulenc: Gloria & motets
CDA67623
Poulenc: Mass & Motets
CDH55448Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Voces 8 Christmas
Studio Master: SIGCD291Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
A Choral Christmas
Studio Master: SIGCD257Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Christmas through the ages
NOEL1Super-budget price sampler — Download only

Details

No 1: O magnum mysterium
Track 12 on CDA67623 [3'15]
Track 2 on CDA67716 [3'11]
Track 6 on CDH55448 [3'19] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 13 on NOEL1 [3'19] Super-budget price sampler — Download only
Track 10 on SIGCD257 [3'37] Download only
Track 4 on SIGCD291 [2'57] Download only
No 2: Quem vidistis pastores dicite
Track 13 on CDA67623 [2'21]
Track 3 on CDA67716 [2'30]
Track 7 on CDH55448 [2'56] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 3: Videntes stellam
Track 14 on CDA67623 [2'31]
Track 4 on CDA67716 [2'53]
Track 8 on CDH55448 [3'02] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Track 12 on SIGCD291 [2'51] Download only
No 4: Hodie Christus natus est
Track 15 on CDA67623 [1'59]
Track 5 on CDA67716 [2'32]
Track 9 on CDH55448 [2'21] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Track-specific metadata for CDA66664 track 8

Videntes stellam
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-94-66408
Duration
3'02
Recording date
16 September 1993
Recording venue
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Poulenc: Mass & Motets (CDA66664)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: March 1994
    Deletion date: January 2011
    Superseded by CDH55448
  2. Poulenc: Mass & Motets (CDH55448)
    Disc 1 Track 8
    Release date: October 2013
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)