Interlude: Vepres a la Vierge en Chine (CD), XVIII-21



After a while of hot writing on Hanfu issues, I need a break before I go on. (Whew!)
So here is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while – yes, I know that this is a very Westernized painting…of the Holy Mother and Lord Iesu (yes, gasp!) in a very Eastern context of them in the ‘garb of the Tartars’, but that’s beside the point today.

Ave Maria Stella – One of the most representative pieces of the entire disc on the perfect harmony of the East and West.
A Magnificat – Chinese and European traditions in all its glory.
I was introduced to the subject of Ming-Qing period Chinese Jesuit music and composition thanks to my British friends from the Facebook Guqin group, who posted a link to a programme on BBC Radio-2 on early music. Rather than introducing classical Chinese musical traditions of the period, a new and rarely heard aspect was introduced — gospel music and vespers written by Jesuit missionaries since the late Ming to mid-Qing, Ricci to Pedrini to Amiot, for promoting God’s word to the Chinese.
It is well-known that Ricci’s move to write the first gospels with Chinese lyrics have set off a huge negative response from the Vatican, as well the integration of Chinese musical systems into the Western religious Baroque tradition. What we get today is a precious example of fusion music and an early attempt into ‘world music’ – without sounding tribal or obviously lenient on one tradition or the other.
Kudos to Jean-Christophe Frisch and Francois Picard to their painstaking research through the libraries and Chinese archives for these records, and restoring them to how they would’ve sounded like during the period.
The only downside is: The CD is available (only) via Amazon France, and it costs a bundle. The upside: It’s available via Chinese “sharing” sites and a certain magical eAnimal software.

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