No 1: Mors et resurrectio
No 2: Ave Maria, Ave maris stella
No 3: Hymne d'actions de grâces 'Te Deum'
Like Reger, Langlais was enormously prolific and the Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes, written between 1934 and 1935, remain not only one of his earliest works of real maturity but also one of his most enduringly popular. Mors et Resurrectio is prefaced by words of St Paul to the Corinthians, ‘Death, where is thy victory?’, and proceeds inexorably in three mighty waves. The composer identifies two themes: the first, which is of his own invention, represents death and builds gradually from the depths; the second, based on the Introit from the Mass for the Dead, represents life and is first heard on a trumpet stop. After a double exposure of these two ideas the plainsong theme is treated more extensively and develops into an all-engulfing climax. The music has a sense of grandeur, conjuring up the vast and imposing spaces of a Gothic cathedral. It is worth bearing in mind that had it not been for the loss of his sight at the age of two, Langlais may well have followed his father into the family trade of stonecutter.
The second movement is also based on two themes, in this case Gregorian chants, each of which is presented separately. In the third section, one of the most exquisite moments in his entire output, fragments of the two themes float by over sustained chromatic harmonies. The Te Deum is a joyous paean of praise—a rhapsodic treatment of the thirteenth-century hymn, with an extended middle section based on the text ‘In Thee have I trusted’.
from notes by Stephen Westrop © 2001