Le Cantique des Cantiques

These are live recordings of two movements of Le Cantique des Cantiques by Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur. They were performed at St Pancras Parish Church on Saturday 9 May 2015 by The Epiphoni Consort directed by Tim Reader.

Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur, known often simply as Daniel-Lesur (November 19, 1908 – July 2, 2002) was a French organist and composer. His mother, Alice Lesur, was an accomplished composer in her own right; some of her music was even published. Daniel-Lesur was a student of Charles Tournemire. In 1935 he became a professor of counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum under its new director, Nestor Lejeune. The following year he co-founded the group La Jeune France along with composers Olivier Messiaen (with whom he would remain a lifelong friend), André Jolivet and Yves Baudrier, who were attempting to re-establish a more human and less abstract form of composition. La Jeune France developed from the avant-garde chamber music society La spirale, formed by Jolivet, Messiaen, and Daniel-Lesur the previous year. That same year he, together with Jean Langlais and Jean-Jacques Grunenwald, gave the first performance of Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur.

Daniel-Lesur also served as director of the Opéra National de Paris from 1971 to 1973. Daniel-Lesur’s most well-known composition is the a capella choral work Le Cantique des Cantiques, a setting for twelve voices of parts of the Song of Songs, interspersed with Latin verses and New Testament texts.

Sebastian ForbesAs composer and founder-patron of the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, I have keenly watched it grow from its beginnings more than a decade ago. The Festival quickly became an established and much valued event in London’s musical calendar, bringing proper attention to the vital place of new music in the church’s repertoire. Indeed, it would now be hard to envisage the month of May without the enjoyment of this exciting enterprise.

Sebastian Forbes, composer