Pax - Gregorian Chants / Les Moines De L'abbaye De St. Benoit

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St. Benoit du Lac is a Benedictine monastery in Southeastern Quebec. It was founded in 1912 by monks from the French abbey of Saint Wandrile, which is part of the Saint Pierre de Solesmes congregation. The monks sing Gregorian chant in the tradition of Solesmes and the monks use their singing, their teaching and their recordings to continue this tradition.
Here we have a recording made originally in 1996. Interestingly, though the monastic community dates from 1912 the buildings are more recent. The church was only built a few years before this recording.
The title of the disc is Pax and peace seems to be the general theme of the texts. It open with the antiphon In viam pacis and continues with a selection of introits whose theme is peace, ranging from Give peace, o Lord, to the familiar Christmas passage about the Prince of Peace.
The disc is structured very roughly around the mass, but with individual elements multiplied up so a group of introits are followed by the Gloria; then three graduals and then three alleluias, Agnus Dei and communion; with finally a selection of hymns and responses. The CD booklet sets out a short but illuminating discussion about how the individual items fit into the theological journey which the monks have constructed. And it is in theological terms rather than purely musical ones that this disc should be seen. The chant here is not sung as a concert, but to evoke an act of worship with the music being purely a vehicle for the theological expression of the text.
Rather frustratingly the CD booklet includes little detailed information about when exactly in the church year individual items would be sung. And there are no printed texts, which makes following the theological argument difficult unless one happens to possess a missal or a gradual.
And what of the singing? Well, it is certainly characterful. The monks choir does not sound exceptionally large and the solo voices are distinctive and individually expressive. This is a sincere reflection of the music of a community, rather than new age background music.
You will find this music better sung elsewhere, but what this disc does convey is a reflection of a community who sing this music every day. 

-- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: AN29776

  • UPC: 774204977627

  • Label: Analekta

  • Composer: Anonymous

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: St. Benoit du Lac Benedictine Monks Chorus