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Live from Liege: Oratory “The Beatitudes” by César Franck- event dedicated to the celebration of 200 years since the birth of the composer

Wednesday, 7 December 2022 , ora 11.33

It is a festive day in Liège, the Belgian town in which, on 10th of December 1822 was born César Franck- the romantic Belgian-French symphonist, the musician considered to be the most relevant composer for piano after Johann Sebastian Bach. And, as we know, not only a creator, but also an interpreter, a perfect organist, famous for his improvisations that used to delight the parishioners of the basilica Sainte-Clotilde in Paris- the church where he was employed the longest time.

Two centuries have passed since the birth of César Franck, during 2022 his personality has been celebrated all over the world through concerts dedicated to him. In Liège there were two moments of great importance this year, the audience enjoying the opportunity to listen to a unique work by César Franck- Hulda, the third from of the four works composed by Franck, presented in May, in a concentrated form. And, recently, at the end of November, the audience from Liège could listen to the famous Symphony in D minor, by far the most known and appreciated score of César Franck, which made its creator famous for being an exceptional symphonist.

We, at Radio România Muzical, have created a page in our musical calendar for César Franck, since 2nd of January, and now we are preparing to listen to the vocal-symphonic concert, which marks the end of the manifestations dedicated to the bicentennial. Exactly on his birthday, on 10th of December, we will be live from the Philharmonic of Liège, the Concert by The Hungarian National Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège, along with the conductor GergelyMadaras- him being also the musical director of the orchestra. The event is part of a two concerts series, one of them being taken over by our radio too.

We will hear The Oratory for soloists, chorus and orchestra "the Beatitudes" by César Franck, a grandiose work regarding which 8 soloists will contest: the Belgian soprano Anne-Catherine Gillet, theLithuanian mezzosoprano JustinaGringytė, the Swiss mezzosoprano Ève-Maud Hubeaux, the American tenor John Irvin, the French tenor ArtavazdSargsyan, the Serbian baritone David Bi¾iæ, the Belgian bass Patrick Bolleire and the Austrian bass Karl-Heinz Lehner.

The first audition of the whole score had taken place in 1893, after the death of the composer, the oratory being considered, by some interpreters, one of the three principal compositions in the music history, as well as Misa in B minor by Bach and Parsifal by Wagner. The work, with a duration of almost two hours, is structured in nine parts ( Prologue and The Beatitudes), the audience becoming witnesses of an imagined dialogue by Joséphine-Blanche Colomb- the author of the text, between the earthling choir and the celestial one, the two characters making comments from different perspectives upon the words of Jesus. The choral overall is divided in certain moments, potentiating the dramatic nature of the libretto; we can notice small groups of pagan women, the Pharisees, the tyrants, the choir of angels or the choir of saints. For their part, the soloists embody the comprehensive range of characters, such as Jesus, a mother, an orphan, the angle of forgiveness, the angel of death or Satan. The text has as a source the Gospel of Matthew.

Therefore, Saturday, 10th of December, from 21:00, during the show The European Stage, we'll have the opportunity to be part of a very important event, which will offer us the chance to encounter a monumental music sheet- The Oratory "The Beatitude" by César Franck- which is too seldom on the headlines of the concerts around the world.

Florica Jalbã
Translated by Andreea-Cristiana Petrescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu