Saint Francois d'Assise (world première recording)
Florian Sempey & Stanislas de Barbeyrac & Orchestre de Chambre de Paris & Accentus, Laurence Equilbey
Sainte Cécile Légende, S. 5
Karine Deshayes (mezzo-soprano) & Orchestre de Chambre de Paris & Accentus, Laurence Equilbey
A co-production with the Bru Zane Foundation, Naïve is delighted to release the world première recording of Saint Francis of Assisi by Gounod, whose bicentenary we celebrate in 2018. Under the direction of Laurence Equilbey, a world-class cast finally gives the work – complemented on disc by Liszt's Legend of Saint Cecilia – the exposure the musical world has been waiting for.
The rediscovery, in 2011, of the manuscript of Saint Francis of Assisi by Gounod (whose bicentenary we celebrate in 2018), was the moment that paved the way for this world première recording by Laurence Equilbey, directing the Orchestre de chambre de Paris and Accentus – along with top soloists Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Florian Sempey.
After obtaining his Prix de Rome, Charles Gounod soon became passionate about religious music, and went to reside at the Villa Medici. Two years before his death, in 1891, he completed writing Saint Francis of Assisi. The score, considered lost, was only recently found. Thanks to the partnership between the Bru Zane Foundation and Naïve, a new light can now be cast upon this unknown piece of French Romantic music.
Apostle of French Romanticism, lyrical and seductive in his most famous operas (Faust, for example), Gounod combines in this sacred work a Franciscan austerity with a full and at times sensual sound, something to which only he held the secret. The beauty of the melodic lines and the sobriety of the speech strike us from the very first bars.
Saint Francis of Assisi is complemented on the programme by the short Hymn to Saint Cecilia - also by Gounod – as well as by its alter ego in the Legend of Saint Cecilia, by Liszt. This intimate work is largely unknown amongst the vast output of sacred music by the great composer, and is here magnificently served by the clear and velvety timbre of mezzo-soprano Karine Deshayes.