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Anniversary Compilation #6 – Claude Vivier

The Eric Ericson Chamber Choir spotlights a rarely heard composer: Canadian Claude Vivier (1948–83). He was only 34 years old when he was stabbed to death in an apartment in Paris by a young male prostitute. His body was found one week later. It is reported that the final, unfinished piece on Vivier’s desk was a dramatized monologue about a trip on the Metro train during which attraction between two men emerged. The music  breaks off at the line: “He then pulled a dagger from his jacket and stabbed me in the heart.”

Did he foresee his own death? Claude Vivier is an enigmatic composer, completely unknown to a broader audience, though slowly, his small oeuvre has begun to be rediscovered. He spent his first years in a Catholic orphanage and never knew who his parents were. He was adopted by a poor French-Canadian family in Montreal and was later enrolled in a religious boarding school. The openly homosexual Claude Vivier was expelled in his teenage years due to “indecent behaviour”.

At that time, he had been engulfed by music. He went to Europe and studied, among other places, for three years at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and then under Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne. He returned to Montreal, but also travelled the world frequently during his brief life.

Claude Vivier’s music, like the man as an individual, is difficult to capture. It is deeply personal and original work that sets high demands on the interpreter. Sometimes the instructions are very precise; sometimes the notation is more graphic and mysterious.

Eric Ericson Chamber Choir presents two works under the baton of its chief conductor, Fredrik Malmberg: the short, suggestive and beautiful Jesus Erbarme Dich from 1974, and the majestic and innovative piece Journal from 1977, set to lyrics by Lewis Carroll and Vivier himself, as well as from the Bible.

(text: Tony Lundman, Stockholm Concert Hall)

Follow this link to Spotify for sound recording (klich here) or follow this link to Youtube for video recording (click here).

Track 1
Claude Vivier: Jesus Erbarme Dich
Conductor: Fredrik Malmberg
Soloist: Ida Zackrisson, soprano
Studio recording: November 15, 2018

Track 2-5 (new release)
Claude Vivier: Journal
Conductor: Fredrik Malmberg
Soloists: Hannah Holgersson, soprano – Maria Sanner, alto – Thomas Volle, tenor – Staffan Liljas, bass
Percussion: Mika Takehara
Live recording: May 16, 2018, Stockholm Concert Hall