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sur des thèmes grégoriens
|Motets by Maurice Duruflé|
The composer c. 1962
|English||Four motets on Gregorian themes|
|Text||liturgical and biblical texts|
|Dedication||Auguste Le Guennant|
|Performed||4 May 1961 Paris:|
|Scoring||SATB a cappella|
Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens (Four motets on Gregorian themes), Op. 10, are four sacred motets composed by Maurice Duruflé in 1960, based on Gregorian themes. He set Latin liturgical texts, scored for unaccompanied voices, and dedicated the work to organist Auguste Le Guennant. The motets were published the same years by Éditions Durand. The first performance was on 4 May 1961 at Saint-Merri in Paris by the Chorale Stéphane Caillat.
Maurice Duruflé composed the four motets in 1960, based on Gregorian themes, as he had done before in his Requiem of 1948. He set Latin texts, scored for unaccompanied voices, a mixed choir in Nos. 1, 3 and 4, and a women's choir in No. 2. Duruflé dedicated the work to Auguste Le Guennant, the director of the Gregorian Institute of Paris. The motets were published the same years by Éditions Durand. The motets were first performed on 4 May 1961 at the church Saint-Merri in Paris by the Chorale Stéphane Caillat.
The text for the first motet is Ubi caritas et amor (Where caring and love), an antiphon for Maundy Thursday. Tota pulchra es (You are completely beautiful) is an antiphon for the Marian Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The text for the third motet, Tu es Petrus (You are the rock), addressing Simon as Peter the Apostle, is taken from Matthew 16:18. The last motet is based on Tantum ergo, the conclusion of the Pange lingua by St. Thomas Aquinas.
In the four motets, Duruflé based his music on Gregorian chant. He combines the chant lines with a polyphonic setting. The chant is always present in one or more voices. The music has been described as "rich in subtle harmonies, well-written for voices, and reminiscent of impressionism". A reviewer notes: "Here Duruflé shows his particular genius for invoking the spiritual element of plainsong in a polyphonic context, achieving a suppleness of rhythm alongside strong characterization of each text."
In recordings, the motets are often combined with Duruflé's Requiem, sharing the same approach of polyphonic music based on Gregorian chant. They have been recorded for example by King's College Choir, conducted by Stephen Cleobury and the Corydon Singers conducted by Matthew Best. On recordings, as in the liturgy, single movements have been performed to match a context. The Cambridge Singers, conducted by John Rutter, performed Ubi caritas in a collection This is the Day of music on royal occasions, while the Westminster Abbey Choir, conducted by James O'Donnell, performed Tu es Petrus for an album The Feast of Saint Peter the Apostle at Westminster Abbey.