SARTENE, CORSICA, 2
September 2005—After an extensive tour around the Mediterranean island
of Corsica, singer and composer Jean-Paul Poletti and the choir of Sartène
returned to their majestic hill-top base, "the most Corsican of Corsican
towns," to sing Poletti's sublime oratorio, Terra Méa
, in the tightly packed church of Saint-Damien.
Commissioned six years ago by the C.T.C., the Collectivité Territorial
de Corse, an organization which takes on the work of a local minister of
culture, the oratorio commemorates the 2000 years of Christianity in the
Terra Méa took me over two and a half years to complete", Jean-Paul
Poletti told me, "because I had to recount two thousand years of the
island's history, step by step, in one hour. But the most difficult part
was to find the right kind of music for each period in time. No amount of
research could come up with what the music was like hundreds of years ago,
and so I had to use my imagination and compose it all."
"Corsica has been inhabited by such a mixture of cultures, including
the Greeks, the Neapolitans, as well as the Arabs, all with their
different systems of notation", he continued, "and there was also the
complicating fact that I wanted to include the origins of polyphony."
J.P. Poletti and the Choeur de
(c) 2004 Universal Classics France
The resulting oratorio, which is first and
foremost sacred music with all the emotion it provokes when sung by this
magnificent group of seven men, is of rare beauty. It is a fascinating
combination of past and present, with the first part of the recording
firmly rooted in the mists of time, while the second, more accessible,
contains more familiar and more sensual melodies of more recent times. The
interpretation is extraordinary, with the voices of the individual
soloists soaring above the choir in each section, whether it be Poletti
himself, in "Inviolata", Stéphane Paganelli in "Ave Maria", or Mathieu
Begue-Tramoni in Terra Méa
Cula l'onde di ruscellu s'accendenu di canti colti per issi viaghj
in le vene terranie, cula un rispiru d'umanu si perde in mille lumi.
Terra Méa. ("Beyond, the waters of a little stream light up with the
music from journeys to the depths of the earth. And beyond, a breath of
mankind spills out in a thousand lights. My land.")
A recording, made in the church
of Fozzano, Corsica, is available from Universal Classics,
The choir will shortly be leaving for guest
appearances in Argentina, Mexico, Mauritius and Algeria.
Boccadoro writes on the arts in Europe. She is a senior editor at
Culturekiosque.com and has contributed to The
Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times.