Thirty years later, still very present is the memory of that Lausanne studio, crammed by the two pianos and three protagonists hearing for the first time the Petite Cantate while recording it. This is simply one of Olivier’s most moving works. It is a profusion of angelic motifs and sumptuous harmonies, which follow yet miraculously superimpose each other as in an ambiance of paradise. One doesn’t find the aggressive ruptures that Olivier later used – whether coyly or cleverly – when he doubted the legitimacy of an idea or wanted to underscore a citation. But, here, there are no such ambiguous devices. One is awed by the elevation of the subject matter and the audaciousness of its organization. Every aspect is spellbinding and extremely intelligent. The Petite Cantate de chambre, a masterwork of his youth imbued with absolute maturity, has its place among the great Negro Spirituals, even if it is slightly anachronistic, like a little sister joining a grand and beautiful family.
(translation Aldridge Hansberry & Jean-Jacques Greif)
Un enregistrement sur disque compact de la Petite Cantate de chambre est disponible sous le label INA-Mémoire vive.