which he attempted to demonstrate how modern harmonic practices and the modality of plainchant could be reconciled; the two men also collaborated in La Maitrise, a periodical devoted to higher standards of musical performance in sacred worship, though it only endured for four years between 1857 and 1861. Though a competent composer himself, Niedermeyer was more influential in his teaching. By all accounts his tolerance of contemporary harmony, with particular emphasis on enharmonic modulation, the use of more distant tonalities, a freer attitude to dissonance and a creative use of modal colour in harmonic progressions, suggests that his methods were more advanced and liberal than those of the Paris Conservatoire. After Niedermeyer's death in 1861, Saint-Saens was appointed to the school, where he taught until 1865. Though infrequently sung, Saint-Saens's corpus of sacred works, much of it for organ and a range of soloists, is varied and extensive, added to which his subtle yet conservative harmonic language is well suited to the constraints advocated by Niedermeyer; yet there is also something of the civilised salon in his musical rhetoric and the refined taste of Massenet. Saint-Saens numbered among his pupils Andre Messager, Eugene Gigout and Gabriel Faure, of whom the latter benefited enormously from the atmosphere of the Ecole.5 Perhaps more than any other composer of his generation, Faure overtly espoused the modal leanings of his 'harmonic' education which he used with increasing creativity and originality in his output. Although substantially Mendelssohn-ian in form (a 'song without words') and gesture, the early Cantique de Jean Racine Op. 11 of 1865 bears many ofthe embryonic hallmarks ofthe composer's intense harmonic vocabulary. The later Messe basse (1881, and revised by Faure in 1906) has more of that individual tonal and modal amalgam so recognisable in the Requiem, first performed at the Madeleine church in 1888 with small orchestra and organ, a boy soprano for the 'Pie Jesu', and the soprano line taken by the children Faure trained at the church. In this unconventional work (undoubtedly suited best for a liturgical context rather than the concert hall), Faure was able to merge those distinguishing elements of an 'old' style (in his deployment of modal harmonies and melodic lines) with a 'new' romantic parlance, showing some awareness of Wagner and Liszt, yet also displaying something strikingly modern whether in the stark tritones and austere, imitative counterpoint at the opening of the Offertoire or the chromatic harmonies that accompany quasi-plainchant lines in the Kyrie. Faure's delicate musical chemistry perfectly embodied the composer's agnostic spirituality which was devoid of all sense of judgement or damnation. A different French sensibility
5 Orledge, Gabriel Faure, pp. 6-7.
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