Gloria IV: Domine Fili Unigenite
The fourth movement of Poulenc’s Gloria seems like a quick and easy learn due to its short length compared to the other movements and repetition. However, there are many challenges and perfect places to start an audition cut!
While the fourth movements has many eighth rests, I never recommend that students take a breath at every rest as they are so frequent in this movement. Over-breathing can cause issues with stacking the breath that can cause tension in the body and in the tone. On rests in consecutive measures I recommend taking a breath every other measure and lifting when not breathing to observe the rest.
Observe the notation for measures of rest. Sometimes it may look a lot shorter than it is because of the notation used to indicate several measures of rest, so write them in! Altos and basses can also make their first entrance by listening for a “repeat” of sorts in the introduction piano.
Regardless of the sparse dynamic indications in the score, make every effort to show dynamic contrast. On repetitive text such as the three “Jesu Christe” try pulling back to mezzo forte, then grow to the fortissimo on the third iteration. Repeated text should never be sung the same way at the same dynamic. Use longer, more lyric phrases to create interesting and graceful phrase shape to break up the monotony of frequent short, syllabic phrases. Be creative and make it interesting so you stand out!
There are a few places that word stress can be utilized in the fourth movement, for example, “unigenite”. Another word to gain “bonus points” with word stress is “Christe” when notated with a quarter note followed by an eighth note. The first syllable start with a strong consonant, then should be louder (second should be softer) and no longer than an eighth note to make this obvious to judges.
Remember, an accent or stress only has value if it is both preceded AND followed by the opposite!
Of the Gloria movements, this may be the “easiest” but in any other year it would still be considered very difficult! A couple of problem areas to pay extra attention to:
Altos and Basses: Your first two “Domine Fili” starting at circle 37 are DIFFERENT!
Basses: Finding the F# at 39 has proven very difficult for many of our basses, particularly when they first transition from using the voice track to the piano track. Drill this one and listen to the octaves in the bass of the piano.
Sopranos and Altos: Finding your pitch 2 measures after 41 is tough, made more difficult by an unhelpful accompaniment. That’s something to work hard on …. and don’t forget to count!
There is so much detail you can add to this three-page movement. Do your best to master the nuts and bolts and then add more your own flair to stand out in your audition!
Happy music making!