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This section is selective, and designed to illustrate some of the different interpretations of the performance of chant (as described in the main Gregorian Association Page: The Chant in Latin) available on record. A fuller discography will be found in issues of the academic journal Plainsong and Medieval Music, published by The Plainsong and Mediæval Music Society
Gregorian Chant is thought to be the 8th-9th century Frankish (in modern terms, French and German) version of the Roman chant. The chant as sung in Rome was not written down until some time after the Frankish version, and was later replaced in Rome by the Frankish version. The Old Roman version, as recorded in writing, is another dialect of "the same" chant as the Frankish "Gregorian" Chant. Among reasons for the differences may be that the transplantation of a Roman musical culture to the Frankish kingdom was not easy, and that the Roman chant may itself have continued to develop after it was transmitted to the Frankish Kingdom, before it was finally written down. There are a number of recordings of Old Roman Chant below.
The centre from which modern theories of mediæval chant performance have emanated is undoubtedly the Abbey of Solesmes in France. It is the monks of Solesmes who have provided the official chant books of the Catholic Church throughout the twentienth century. The earlier, and now largely discredited, rhythmic theory of Dom. André Mocquereau is generally represented by the earlier recordings listed below which are directed by Dom. Joseph Gajard. More recent recordings are directed by Dom. Jean Claire, whose direction is more likely to be informed by the more recent rhythmic theories of Dom Eugène Cardine. The reinterpretation here is subtil, unlike some of the more radical attempts by others to give practical form to Cardine's ideas.
Bolder attempts at interpreting the rhythm of the earliest manuscripts are made by Reznikoff, the Schola Hungarica, the Ensemble Gilles Binchois and the Ensemble Organum. Reznikoff's performances are solo - this can be partly justified by suggestions that at least some of the more ornate chants were originally intended to be sung soloistically. In many of the Schola Hungarica's performances, the notion that melismatic style (many notes to one syllable) should be sung more lightly than syllabic style is in evidence. Their style could be described as slightly "percussive", as opposed to the smooth "liquidity" of the Ensembles Gilles Binchois and Organum. The latter two groups, particularly Gilles Binchois, make a dramatic contrast between the faster and slower rhythms indicated in the manuscripts, with the result that the style sounds quite unlike the romantic, "classical" style of the monks of Solesmes, and perhaps suggests non-Western singing styles alive in the world today. (The Ensemble Organum has sometimes been criticised for an anachronistic tendency to retain rhythmic nuances implied by mediæval chant notation in performances of the much later chant of eighteenth century France!) My own demonstration CD, Alleluias, is intended to illustrate aspects of the changing style of chant through the centuries, and my interpretation of the early rhythmic notations was inspired particularly by these two groups.
When record companies recently decided to create a taste-public for the chant by re-marketing pre-existing recordings in a new way, they lighted in particular upon recordings made by the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos between the 1950's and the early 1980's. They are therefore examples of early twentieth century Solesmes style, using the outmoded rhythmic system of Dom. André Mocquereau.
Examples of the "proportional" theory of Vollaerts and Gregory Murray (in which long and short notes are sung in a binary relation to each other, as if modern crotchets and quavers) will be found in the recordings of the Deller Consort
An example of a late "measured" chant source is the Medicean
Christ at Gethsemane: dir. Dom Jean Claire. Studio SM 12 16.26; Paraclete S 833 (Recorded 1988)
The Church Sings her Saints I and II: dir. Dom Jean Claire. Studio SM 12 16.28; Paraclete S 827 and 828 (Recorded 1983, 1984, 1985 - reissued)
Tenebræ of Good Friday: dir. Dom Jean Claire. Studio SM 12 17.92; Paraclete S 834 (Issued 1991)
Le Dimanche des Rameaux: dir. Dom. Joseph Gajard: Accord 201472 (reissue of 1965 recording)
Messe de la Pentecôte; Messe de la Fête-Dieu: dir. Dom Jean Claire. Accord 201482 (reissue of 1972 recording)
Messes de Temps Pascal 1 and 2: dir. Dom Joseph Gajard. Accord 201492/201502 (reissue of 1960-1 recordings)
Messe de l'Ascension; Messe de l'Assomption: dir. Dom Jean Claire. Accord 201532 (reissue of 1972 recording)
The Classic, and Complete, 1930 HMV Recordings: dir. Joseph Gajard. Pearl GEMM CDS 9152 (2 CDs - reissued 1995)
Gregorian Chant Rediscovered: dir. Joseph Gajard. Paraclete S 835 (recorded
1930, reissued 1994)
Le chant de Fontenay: Studio SM 12 16.40 (Recorded 1988)
Le chant de Vézelay: Le Vase de Parfum: Studio SM 12 21.16 (Recorded 1992)
Le chant de Vézelay: Marie-Madeleine au Tombeau: Studio SM 12
21.62 (Recorded 1992)
Beneventan Chants: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Hungaroton HCD 31168 (Recorded 1989)
Gregorian Chant from Aquitaine: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Quintana/HMF QUI 903031 (Recorded 1990)
From Adam to Abraham: Responsories on Texts from Genesis: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Quintana/HMF QUI 903032 (Recorded 1990)
From Abraham to Moses: Responsories on Texts from Genesis and Exodus: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Quintana/HMF QUI 903038 (Recorded 1991)
Christmas Eve: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Quintana/HMF QUI 903037 (Recorded 1991-2)
Sequences from Nonantola: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. EMI/Quintana QUI 903084 (Recorded 1992)
A Pilgrimage to Rome: Old Roman Chants: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Hungaroton HCD 31574 (Recorded 1994)
S. Elizabeth of Hungary: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay. Hungaroton HCD 31605 (Recorded 1995)
Original Gregorian Chants: dir. Janka Szendrei, Lászlo Dobszay.
K-tel International 3384-2. (Recorded 1994)
Plain-chant de la Cathédrale d'Auxerre: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901319 (Recorded 1989)
Mass of Tournai: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901353 (Recorded 1990)
Chants of the Church of Rome (= "Old Roman" chants): S. Marcellus: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901382 (Recorded 1991)
Medicean Gradual of 1614 (with Palestrina's Missa Viri Galilæi): Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901388 (Recorded 1991)
Cistercian Chant: Responsories of S. Bernard of Clairvaux: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901392 (Recorded 1991)
Graduel d'Aliénor de Bretagne: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901403 (Recorded 1991)
Chants de la Cathédrale de Benevento: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901476 (Recorded 1993)
Plain-Chant Parisien: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901480 (Recorded 1993)
École Notre-Dame: Messe de la Nativité de la Vierge: dir. Marcel Pérès. Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901538 (Recorded 1994)
Liturgical Drama: the Pilgrims at Emmaus: dir. Marcel Pérès.
Harmonia Mundi France HMC 901347 (Recorded 1990)
Les Tons de la Musique: dir. Dominique Vellard. Harmonic H/CD 8827 (Recorded 1989)
14th Century Chant from Bibliothèque Nationale MS. latin 17311 (with Machaut, Messe de Notre Dame): dir. Dominique Vellard. Harmonic H/CD 8931 (Recorded 1990)
Le Manuscrit de Puy: dir. Dominique Vellard. Virgin VC7 59238 2 (Recorded
Obras maestras del Canto Gregoriano: dir. Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta: EMI Classics CDZ 7 62734 2 (1992 reissue of 1973 recording)
Canto Gregoriano: dir. Francisco Lara: EMI Classics CDZ 7 62735 2 (1992 reissue of 1980 recording)
Canto Gregoriano: Navidad: dir. Francisco Lara: EMI Classics CDZ 7 67194 2 (1992 reissue of 1981 recording)
Canto Gregoriano: Semana Santa I: dir. Francisco Lara: EMI Classics CDZ 7 67195 2 (1992 reissue of 1982 recording)
Las mejores obras del Canto Gregoriano: dir. Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta and Francisco Lara: EMI Odeon CMS 5 65135 2 (1993 reissue of 1972-82 recordings)
Chant: dir. Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta and Francisco Lara: Angel CDC 5 55138 2 (1994 reissue of 1973-82 recordings)
Chant II: dir. Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta and Francisco Lara: EMI Angel CDC 5 55504 2 (1995 reissue of 1972 recording)
Chant Noel: dir. Francisco Lara: Angel 5 55206 2 (1994 reissue of 1980-1 recordings)
The Soul of Chant: Jade JAD C 131; Milan 73138-35703-2 (recorded 1955; reissued 1995)
Ave Maria: Jade/Milan 73138-35704-2 (1995 reissue of 1956-7 recording)
Easter Chants: Jade/Milan 73138-35745-2 (1995 reissue of 1956-7 recording)
Die Tradition des Gregorianischen Chorals. Six monastic choirs (originally a set of six vinyl recordings): Archive 435032-2 (4 CD set - recorded 1968-1977)
Like the Sun in his Orb: Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, dir. Mary Berry. Herald HAVPCD 148 (recorded 1992)
Les Mystères du Rosaire: Choir of the Nuns of the Abbey of Notre-Dame d'Argentan, dir. Joseph Gajard: Jade/Milan 74321-29490-2 (1995 reissue of 1968 recording). A Gregorian "concept album", using chants whose texts correspond to the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.
Visitacio Sepulcri: Schola Georgiani, dir. Hana Vlhová and Schola Gregoriana of Prague, dir. David Eben. Supraphon 11 1562-2 (Recorded 1989). The earliest liturgical drama.
Schola Gregoriana Scriptoria, an Italian group which sings in Cardine-Solesmes style has produced various recordings (follow the link).