RENDINE: Passio et Resurrectio
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Sergio Rendine (b.1954)
Passio et ResurrectioThis music is made of flesh, as well as spirit; nerves, aswell as spirit; anxiety, uncertainty, fear, pain andconfusion, as well as spirit.
Anyone who believes that sacred music is no morethan music written of or for the spirit, will notunderstand it. This, this is music of love. And the loveof the Father is clear in the terrible humiliation andsuffering of His only Son, a Son who is God and at thesame time is no longer God: in his final moment he isalone. He is only the Son of Man. Through him,humanity cries out,\My God, my God, why hast thouforsaken me". And I, a speck of humanity, want to cryout with them.
My music, therefore, is only that of a man, for men;of a child, for those who, like him, stand before therisen Christ as if before a pumpkin transformed into acarriage, open-mouthed in amazement. This is nonintellectualmusic, in that it seeks to be free of thebanality that some foolishly call "intelligence". This isintuitive music, written without thinking, or rather bythinking along different lines. It is music... and this isthe point...Talking about music is like trying to wearclothes made of water... Sometimes it is useless, andyet it bathes us. It is better to listen to music, and evenbetter to make it ourselves. As always...Sergio RendineThe Teatro Marrucino and the "Passio et Resurrectio"
In spring 1977, the Teatro Marrucino in Chieti, in theItalian region of Abruzzo, opened its doors for the firsttime to groups of non-professional singers andmusicians. During Holy Week these groups travelledfrom house to house around Chieti, singing Passiontidesongs. They performed two each day throughout theweek, ancient pieces of music, often dating back to thedays of Gregorian chant, and handed down fromgeneration to generation over the centuries.
More than a hundred miles away, in Naples, wherethis Easter tradition has its roots, Sergio Rendine wascomposing the cantata that was to become the Passio etResurrectio for soloists, "folk" voices, chorus andorchestra. At that time, we did not know him, and hedid not know us or the Teatro Marrucino.
Fate brought us together in the summer of 1997and we soon began to talk about this lovely traditionwhich, in different forms, had long existed acrosssouthern Italy. Not long afterwards, on 13th April2000, the Orchestra and Chorus of the TeatroMarrucino gave the premi?¿re of the Passio etResurrectio (texts by Vincenzo De Vivo) in Chieti'sSan Giustino Cathedral.
The concert was recorded by RADIORAI andbroadcast on Good Friday immediately after the Pope'straditional Via Crucis ceremony in Rome. It went on tobe broadcast by RAI SAT and RAI International in 58different countries. The Marrucino Orchestra has sinceperformed the work in both Abruzzo and Rome, whilethe Exultate movement formed part of the Christmas2003 concert broadcast by RAI from Bethlehem.Aurelio Bigi,Special commissioner of the Teatro Marrucino
Nicola Cuculo, Mayor of Chieti
The Easter cantata Passio et Resurrectio is a musicalsetting of the feelings expressed by ordinary peopleabout the most important event in the church calendar.
It takes its inspiration from local folk traditions(themselves rooted in ancient rituals) which surviveduntil very recently in the rural areas of Abruzzo,Campania and Puglia.
The Easter customs of the Kingdom of Naplesvaried from place to place but all had one thing incommon: the Passiontide song, for a solo voice orunison chorus, often accompanied by strings (pluckedand bowed), wind, percussion and, in later years,accordion. This musical tradition began in rural areaswith travelling singers going from farm to farm, butsoon spread to urban centres where they would go fromhouse to house instead. The music they performed wasmore or less the same across the different regions: theritual telling of the 24 hours of the Passion, from theLast Supper to the Burial, the Pianto della Madonna(tears of the Virgin) as Mary looks for her son, and thestory of Christ's last hours, ending with the blessing ofthe holy palm.
The origins of the customs surrounding the EasterPassion go back a very long way, and encompass manyof those originally associated with the passions of themiddle-eastern gods worshipped by imperial Rome.
The different versions of these folk-songs, still to beheard in Campania and Abruzzo, have been handeddown with infinite variety. The language changes fromplace to place, from dialect to Italian, or Italianiseddialect. The form varies too, and the verses, oftenirregular in terms of rhythm and rhyme scheme, tend insurviving transcriptions to conform to a model owingmuch to the eighteenth century and the musicality ofthe eleven-syllable lines of poet and librettist PietroMetastasio, many of whose lyrics can be foundalongside more authentically folk-based lines in theEaster music of the Amalfi coast. It was during theeighteenth century in fact that local traditions and morelearned literary forms came together thanks to StAlphonsus Liguori, bishop, musician, poet andmoralist. He encouraged the integration of traditionalrituals into Catholic orthodoxy, codifying as "holypractice" the singing of the Orologio della Passione(the 24 hours of the Passion) which would then join thelater practices of the Via Crucis (the procession past StLeonard of Port Maurice's fourteen stations of thecross), the Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on theCross and the Three Hours of Agony of Christ on theCross.
The text of Passio et Resurrectio is a meditation onthe "salutary contemplation of the Passion" (St Paul ofthe Cross). It combines traditional music with thereflective moments of the Seven Last Words, whichbecome an integral part of the popular ritual of theOrologio della Passione and which together with theGospel text sung by the chorus accompany Mary'sgrieving, as expressed through the forms of oral andmedieval literary tradition.
For some time now Sergio Rendine has investedhis work with a sense of spiritual longing thattranscends the human dimension, and in Passio etResurrectio his religious and naturalistic inspiration isevident. Over the years his style has developed,becoming linguistically and formally more elaboratethrough borrowings from other times and places. Here,in the themes of the Passion and the Resurrection, itfinds the ancient life blood of his Mediterranean roots,the structures of the great Neapolitan tradition ofrhetoric, be it the sacred "theatricality" of FrancescoDurante and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi or the severityof Leonardo Leo, the Lutheran chorales in the Passionsof Bach and others, the purity of eighteenth-centurysacred music, the visceral sounds of street music, theunbridled rhythm of ritual dances, and the desperatecry of men relating their own day-to-day pain to thesuffering of God and seeking the hope of resurrection.
All of these come together to form a vast edifice,or polyptych, some of the panels of which have aprevious existence, such as the Alleluia, in the Missapro pace conducted by Ashkenazy in Stockholm, or theExultate and Agnus Dei which, slightly adapted, hadearlier formed part of Rendine's Missa deBeatificatione in onore di Padre Pio.
The cantata opens with the words of Christ who isapproaching his final hour on earth. "Tristis est animamea" (Sad is my soul) sings the chorus. The "folk"voice replies, accompanied by percussion beating timeto the first nineteen hours of the Orologio dellaPassione. Then come the Seven Last Words, sung bythe chorus and followed by meditative Abruzzian texts.
An instrumental episode, with solo trumpet, representsthe story of the good thief, while a flute solo depictsMary's sorrow, befor