Tuesday, October 28, 2014


The mother has become our mind and our soul


The whole CD is magic in a way because it has a dramatic structure and that is the work of the director, and Philippe Jaroussky is that director for the first time in this CD.

The first title “Clarae stellae, scintillate” starts with an ambiguous tone. There is some sadness, some inner suffering or doubt that is entirely rendered by the tone of the voice and it is only the third track that brings some dynamism and joyful jubilation and it rubs some ”balm [in]to [our] sadness.” And the Alleluia crowns this joyful conclusion though there might be some kind of sad note here and there. Jaroussky is able to bring that ambiguity of tone forward and we feel it deeply and intensively. Jaroussky seems to have this rare ability of bringing sadness and joy together in his tone and Vivaldi helps him do it.

That was only the introduction. We then move to the “Stabat Mater.” It is the second time Jaroussky records this piece. He had already recorded it in 2008. The first thing that has to be said is that this Stabat Mater is only the first ten stanzas of the original twenty. That was a choice made by Vivaldi, a good choice in many ways because it concentrates on the suffering of Mary at the foot of the cross and it puts aside the second half in which the congregation, the faithful, the individual Christian is trying to make Mary put him or them in her place and then he or they try to take over Mary’s suffering with a clear objective that appears crystal-clear in stanza 18: the faithful, the congregation, the individual Christian are trying to make Mary share her suffering only to be the intercessor between the sinner or the sinners and Jesus, her son, to enable the sinner or the sinners to be spared going to hell for their sins. Luckily Vivaldi spared us that rather self-centered second half.

In this Stabat Mater Jaroussky is a lot better than in the old recording. He emphasizes the suffering of the mother in front of the torture and the death of her own son on the cross. There is no sharing of the suffering, there is something completely different: empathy. We are contemplating and empathetically reverberating Mary’s suffering in our own silence and mind. We do not ask anything from her except that she may tolerate our own sorrow, mourning, veneration and suffering. Jaroussky reaches in this new recording of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater pure perfection in this suffering of a mother and somewhere the conviction that this death was not in vain, and yet this conviction makes us suffer and we can only tremble with this exquisite perfection, with this exquisite pain that reinforces our own devotion and faith. In a way Mary, Jesus’ mother, becomes our own mother who would be crying the same way if we were on the cross. We are just able to project ourselves, Jaroussky in fact projects us onto the cross and Mary’s suffering and tears are for us, for our own suffering because this world is nothing but “hac lacrimarum valle,” “this valley of tears.” But here the tears are not our own but our universal mother’s on our suffering in this valley of pain. Track eleven is probably the very apex of this intimately reverberated pain and yet Mary, this divine mother, is the “source of love,” the love we have to demonstrate to be just up to her trust and understanding.

The next piece, “Filiae Jerusalem” is going up in the tragic drama we are offered here. We no longer see Christ on the cross through Mary’s eyes but through our own eyes, the eyes of the “daughters of Jerusalem.” This suffering is no longer that of a mother but of the whole universe, the whole creation itself. And sure enough in track 15 the winds, the meadows, the leaves and flowers, all get silent and like dying of thirst because the water of life is refused to them. The music is that of a tenebrae, a dirge wrapping us up in the silent quietness and immobility of non-existence, the numbness of pain. And that leads to the death of the river of life, the river irrigating the Messianic Jerusalem, and this death of Jesus, who is the river of the Messianic Jerusalem, brings the loss of all light from the sun and the moon, these two luminaries God had created to punctuate his very creation and endow it with time.

This immense lamentation in darkness, this total solitude in perdition that brings us down into the “spreading darkness,” “tenebris diffusis,” brings in track 16 a small bubble of energy, of hope because deep behind all that darkness there is the hope Jesus may “have mercy upon us.”

The turning point is the Concerto for strings and continuo that is a summary of the drama. A first movement in the form of a chase, a hunt after Jesus in Jerusalem. It leads to the very dark and solemn moment when Jesus is captured, tried and plainly put to death on the cross. This largo amplifies the event and our sad contemplation of this divine fate that leads nevertheless to an allegro that is the resurrection, the promise that all will end well, sooner or later, because there will be this moment when the rock will be rolled away and we will be able to rise with Jesus, like Lazarus, from among the dead.

The second part of the CD can then come and start with the Domine Deus of Vivaldi’s Gloria RV 589. It is short but it is all full of joy and maybe happiness because now the Father is with us, The Father God, Jesus’ Father as well as our own, since he is the Father of the creation. We have left the suffering and the pain behind. We are able to stand up with the help of this God. And Jaroussky’s voice is as clear and even as the voice of some divine messenger, of some true believer, of some angel maybe, and not a fallen one indeed. This deep and long impregnation of our souls and minds with this divine world can make us strong.

Track 21 brings us face to face to “Longe Mala, Umbrae, Terrores” and many other horrors. But the music and the power of the voice makes us able to reject, to fight, to refuse all these “evils” of violence, war, death. The voice is now what brings us to our feet and to the consciousness that we have the future of this world in our own hands. But that is not going to be an easy battle and repeating the words over and over, the music again and again is necessary. We must not get disheartened and lose courage. Evils are persistent and insistent. We must be just as persistent and insistent and, no problem, the voice of our resolve, the voice of God is able to tear the sky open and bring the sun back.

This resolve pushes the clouds away and light comes back on this universe, the sun shines again, and the moon and the stars are back in the sky. This time Jaroussky dictates his orders and commands to the clouds to the world. Jaroussky and we all are able to bring the next track to life.

Now we have cleared the sky of its clouds the voice of God and the light of the Lord can come down onto us. Jaroussky literally rocks us into comfort and acceptance of this conviction that this voice and this light are the emanation of God himself. Let the voice gently push our cradle to and fro, let the light caress our face and our soul and we will just be able to ascend to the heaven from which the voice descends and to reflect inside and outside the resplendent light that comes from this true promise of eternity in heaven. It is just too beautiful to accept this singing to stop. Please make him go on for ever.

This battle and this Faith can then find the final Alleluia they send to conclude this episode in the drama with the absolute certitude to be saved, to be reaching the promise of eternal life.

Then rejoin Mary, this time as the Queen of Heaven. She no longer is the crying mother. She is the Mother of the whole humanity, of us all and she is able to help us climb the dire ladders one rung at the time and paths step by step leading to heaven.  A “Salve Regina” dedicated to all women and mothers on this earth at whose feet we have to kneel and who we have to thank for the erasing of Eve’s fault, of Eve’s heritage. We are sinners, we are Eve’s children, we are crossing a valley of tears and yet we are never lost, we never sound pessimistic or doubtful. The music and Jaroussky’s voice are there to let us know that with the proper trust in the support from this eternal Mother of ours we can face and confront any difficulty, any wound and any loss.

Jaroussky recaptures his double tone that enables him to both express the dangers and difficulties, even our fears and at the same time our conviction that we will find the support we need. Our fear, if there is one, has to be the fear of our doubts, the fear of our solitude. But the voice and the music at once provides the hand we need, the force we long for, the power we have to demonstrate and all that is in us just because we trust the eternal Mother. She is our power, she is our force, she is our helpful hand and all that is in our own soul, in our own mind, because our soul and our mind are the spirit of God himself and the Queen of heaven can just animate, revive, give life to that inner visionary dimension of ours. She, Holy and Virgin Mother of us all, gives birth in our own skulls to the divine soul we dearly need to stay alive and not yield to any temptation. She is our mother, the mother of our spiritual salvation, of our mental stamina.

This support from the Queen of on high is most beautifully peaceful and helpful in track 27 when we are face to face, one on one with the valley of tears. But the force is hers in track 28 and we can accept to be led by her and by our faith to the supreme concluding joy we can find and share in seeing Jesus, no longer on the cross, but as the “blessed fruit of [Mary’s] womb.”

And thus this beautiful CD that started with the horror of the Cross and the Passion can end with the promise of salvation, and the last vision of the Mother of Jesus and her new-born infant in his Nativity. The end has found its beginning, the omega its alpha, and God who was, who is and who is coming can come again in us if we have followed Philippe Jaroussky’s voice across this tragic drama that has the joyful and happy ending of the eternal salvation of humanity from their deeply ingrained and buried evil.

The DVD added to this CD brings us back to earth and Venice. It is a nice guided visit and we are all surprised since the guide is Philippe Jaroussky himself who is not only a voice but a real human presence. That may make you start liking the man behind the voice. Then you will have to go and see him performing live and then try to get closer. But the man has to be protected in a way. So I find it a very good idea to make him be our guide in Venice. That’s human and endearing.


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