Photo Stella Doufexis
For the Biennale of Vocal Arts, the Philharmonie has invited the best vocal artists of our time in a series of most interesting programs. Tonight, the RIAS Kammerchor and the Münchener Rundfunkorchester, conducted by Alexander Liebreich, will give a concert with spirited spiritual music. They introduce themselves with Johannes Brahms’ “Geistliches Lied”, where the choir shows already the breadth of its qualities and which introduces a spiritual atmosphere. Pascal Dusapin’s « Disputatio », that is heard for the first time tonight in France, is an original and gripping work. Written in 2014, a command of the Münchener Kammerchor and the RIAS Kammerchor, it is based on an 8th century Latin manuscript. The text is a dialogue between teacher and student, a game of questions and answers, full of riddles, mystical allusions, fables… A children’s choir takes up the pupil’s texts and the choir answers at the teacher’s place. Tonight, a small ensemble of women sings instead of the children. High sopranos, precise and agile, they have the crystalline candour of the children’s voices. The choir is equally wonderful to hear. Beautiful voices, precise, deep, they give life and dynamics to the dialogue. Pascal Dusapin’s instrumentation, especially the sound of the glass harmonica, gives, like a stained glass window, a mystical light to the piece. A dynamic composition it is, full of life, and we wish it lots of success and performances as beautiful as this. The evening closes with Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem. In spite of two rather dramatic parts, this requiem brings calm and peace. The choir and orchestra, and the excellent soloists, Stella Doufexis, mezzo-soprano, with her rich warm voice, and Stephan Genz, baritone, decided and powerful in his short interventions, bring this piece to vibrant, stirring life. The public, in a meditative mood, hold their breath. Thundering applause greets the artists at the end, impressive especially in a far from sold-out hall, and the apparition of Pascal Dusapin with his young son, to whom “Dispuatio” is dedicated, ends the evening in style.