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Il sacro sensuale incontra il provocante profano

The Passion of Christ meets human passions


Nostell Priory

Doncaster Road





NB: ADMISSION CHARGES apply to Nostell Priory if you are not currently a NT member.


A recital that explores Italian vernacular spiritual madrigals and Latin liturgical motets with echoes of Opera, Carnivale and sophisticated Salon music.

Monteverdi. Not only was he San Marco’s Maestro di Cappella but also in the vanguard of the inventors of Opera, taking the Renaissance ars perfecta of the prima pratica (words as mistress to music), and injecting visceral emotional invention – the dramatic intent of the new affetti devoti of the seconda pratica (music as mistress to words). As in the other arts there is little stylistic distinction between the heavenly sacred and earthly secular composition and performance – the blatantly erotic given sacred sanction.


The program spotlights his equally talented but oft overlooked contemporaries. Marvel at Lotti’s groundbreaking and dramatic narratives and the clear interest in human emotion and characterisation in his sacred work. We also compare composers’ obsession with the Crucifixus narrative.


‘moitié moine, moitié voyou’ (‘half-monk, half-rascal’).

eminent critic Claude Rostande on Poulenc


Poulenc’s love of Monteverdi, after close study and hearing Nadia Boulanger’s choral ensemble performing Monteverdi Madrigals, inspired him to emulate the Venetian master. The reductionist character profile of the man as a mere privileged salon wastrel is debunked…


“He was deeply devout and uncontrollably sensual"

Composer Ned Rorem on Poulenc


Poulenc himself admitted that there were two sides to his character, the “gentle, devout Poulenc” and the “rakish bon-viveur”. His music seems to be the embodiment of a certain urbane Gallic charm – often sophisticated, witty, ironic and sentimental – but elsewhere tinged with melancholy.


The tragic death of his close friend, the young composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud, in a grisly road accident in Debrecen, Hungary deeply upset Poulenc who shortly afterwards made a pilgrimage to the ancient shrine of Notre Dame de Rocamadour.


“As I meditated on the fragility of our human frame, I was drawn once more to the life of the spirit. Rocamadour had the effect of restoring me to the faith of my childhood”. This religiosity would find its way into his works in the form of a greater emotional depth, but it rarely suppressed his impish wit.





A selection from Sept Chansons (Sur des poems de Paul Eluard et Guillaume Apollonaire) to include La Blanche neige, Belle et ressemblante, Marie and Luire.


Quatre Motets pour un Temps de Penitence – Fitting for the season and for performance in the grounds of a destroyed Augustinian Priory c.1110




Merula Hors ch’e tempo di dormire

Monteverdi Crucifixus @4, Adoramus te Christe, E questa vita un lampo

Cavalli Salve regina

Lotti La Vita caduca (In una siepe ombrosa), Crucifixus @6 @8 @10

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