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Review: Assumption Chants by Fontgombault

A review by Louis Tofari

This review was made in 2017.

I still remember the first time listening to the Benedictine monks of Fontgombault Abbey [located near Berry, France], and marveling at the richness and depth of expression with which they sang the Gregorian chant. It was a recording unlike any other I had previously heard, even by the famed monastery of Solesmes [to whose congregation they belong]. Not only did these monks sing the chant with a masterful interpretation of the prescribed Solesmes method, but also with an unrivaled contemplative spirit.

Since my first audio experience of Fontgombault from a couple of decades ago, I have unreservedly recommended their recordings to schola directors, singers and clergy as the premier example of how the chant of the Roman Rite should be properly sung, both technically and spiritually. For these sons of St. Benedict do not merely render faithfully the technical nuances that comprise the splendor of the Roman Church’s sacred chant, but also profoundly pray what they are singing.

Recently, Valley Entertainment has re-released one of the Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault’s most famous and beautiful chant recordings for the Mass and Office of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Originally recorded in 1973, Valley Entertainment has rearranged the pieces and now offers it in CD format, as well as digital downloads. Two digital formats are available, MP3 or WAV, and either the entire album can be purchased or the pieces individually.

The recording files include not only the chant propers of the Mass and extracts from the Divine Office of Vespers, but also opening and closing organ pieces played by the abbey’s organist. Included too is the Marian hymn, Salve Regina (sung at the conclusion of Compline), and the ringing of the monastery’s bells for the Angelus.

To more fully appreciate the great beauty of the Gregorian chants sung by the monks of Fontgombault Abbey for the Feast of the Assumption, I would recommend following along with their musical notation. This can be done via the printed Liber Usualis or even from online sources.

For more details and samples of the chant recordings for the Feast of our Lady’s Assumption, or to purchase them, please visit this webpage at Valley Entertainment’s site.

You can also listen to a sample below.

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