Franck: The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross; Domine non secundum

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Franck
LABELS: Cypres
WORKS: The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross; Domine non secundum
PERFORMER: Bernadette Degelin (soprano), John Hurst, Louis Devos (tenor), Jacques Schwarz (bass), Gérard Seel (organ), Choeur Henri Duparc, Orchestre du Domaine Musical/Jean-Paul Salanne
CATALOGUE NO: CYP 2610
Unless you’re desperate to hear Franck’s Seven Last Words, otherwise unavailable on CD, this disc has little to recommend it. I once sang for a season in a choir in rural France and was shocked at its uniformly low standard. The Choeur Henri Duparc sounds like a near relation. Its first entry, an appallingly out of tune slow cadence, is enough to make anyone press the stop button. The orchestral playing is a notch better but the ensemble leaves much to be desired, particularly in the woodwind. The recorded sound is truly amateur, with poor tone quality and balance, the orchestra often swamping the soloists.

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The piece is not listed in Grove and exists only in an untitled autograph score in the University of Liège. With its graceful flowing lines and classical dignity it’s a pleasing, if bland work, divided into a prologue and seven movements, one for each ‘word’, or saying, but with parts for crowd and narrator and commentary from other parts of Scripture – a sort of semi-Passion.

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A few more solo-voice motets like Domine non secundum would have brought the total timing up to a more acceptable level. Janet Banks