Claude Vivier (1948-83) - Journal

Recorded live on 28th February 2008. Duration: 45 minutes 9 seconds

All the way from Chants (1972-3), which he regarded as his Op.1, to Glaubst du? (1983) - a distance of only a decade, but also a creative lifetime - Vivier kept returning to the sound of human voices gathered together: the sound of a human community, and the sound also of a liturgy. It was the sound of his opera Kopernikus (1979), which clinched his reputation in his native Montréal.

The model of choral harmony was surely fixed in his mind by his upbringing in zealously Catholic Quebec, but its particular form also owed something to a work by his teacher Stockhausen: Stimmung (1968), in which six singers vocalise for over an hour within a continuing chord based on the overtones of a low B flat, a warm bath of consonance at one exciting and serene.

Like this Stockhausen work, Vivier's Journal, written in 1977 to a commission from the Festival Singers of Toronto, is at once cosmic and personal. It was, with Shiraz, among the works of exuberance and self-discovery he produced on returning from his Asian trip. It was also designed as a musical, spiritual and sexual autobiography - a summation, perhaps, before the next step forward. As in most of his vocal works, Vivier assembled the text himself, drawing - and again this was normal for him - on favourite texts (Lewis Carroll's Alice books, the poetry of Novalis and the Catholic liturgy in this case) and on his own words, in French and in his invented language.

The presence of a solo percussionist, signalling, adds to the ritual atmosphere. The work lasts for a little under an hour.

Nicholas Kok Conductor

Tim Williams Percussion

°Journal soloists

Jennifer Adams-Barbaro
Ildikó Allen
Margaret Feaviour
Micaela Haslam
Elizabeth Poole°
Olivia Robinson
Lesley-Jane Rogers

Lynette Alcántara
Jacqueline Fox
Siân Menna°
Jennifer Ord
Stephanie Seeney
Penny Vickers

Christopher Bowen
Edward Goater
Stephen Jeffes°
Robert Johnston
Neil MacKenzie
Andrew Murgatroyd

Simon Birchall
Michael Bundy
Sam Evans
Charles Gibbs
Adrian Peacock
Edward Price°

Psappha’s YouTube Channel

You can also visit Psappha’s YouTube Channel, where you can watch:

  • Films of works by emerging composers
  • Films of Psappha’s Hong Kong Residency (2013)
  • All of the films on Psappha’s website