Devotions

COMPOSERS: Gregorian Chant
LABELS: JVC
WORKS: Gregorian Chant Meets Buddhist Chant
PERFORMER: Cantori Gregoriani/Fulvio Rampi; Tendai Shomyo Onritsu Kenkyukai
CATALOGUE NO: 5393-2

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‘Gregorian Chant Meets Buddhist Chant’ sounds like a cynically devised title for a growing market. In fact it is a live event that took place in Japan when an Italian group joined local monks to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

In truth the chants meet only in a short, superimposed encore. Plainsong starts, rather woodenly sung, then the Tendai Shomyo chant follows with its continuous movement between pitches, staggered entries sliding to a unison, and intense male ambience (none of your Christian softness).

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There’s no musical common ground, but an expressive and textual kinship which must have made the occasion moving. It certainly made the audience move: the first few minutes sound like a sanatorium concert, and that’s before the sneezing starts.