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chorus and soprano

Sigh! Both the melody and harmony of Jesus erbarme dich (Jesus have mercy on me) are based on the musical “sigh,” a descending motive found in music for a number of centuries now. Vivier’s short piece is both disquieting and engaging. A simple interval echoes the naivety of the text, as “Jesus have mercy” is repeated and exchanged between soloist and choir.

Vivier’s mysticism is very much a part of this work from 1973, his taste for ritual still strongly linked to Catholic dogma more than eight years after he was refused entry into the priesthood that he believed to be his vocation. This kyrie of sorts represents a bridge to a fixed ritual—the Roman Catholic mass—from Vivier’s personal rituals that he worked out in music.

Martine Rhéaume [viii-07]

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