Josse-François-Joseph Benaut (c.1743, Gullegem, Belgium - 13 July 1794, in what is now Place de la Nation, Paris) was a Belgian composer, organist and harpsichordist who was guillotined during the French Revolution. His father Charles Benaut was an organist in Wulveringen in Flanders. Josse-François-Joseph Benaut set himself up in Paris as a harpsichord tutor and in 1771 married the daughter of a Flemish merchant.
I had given serious thought about doing some French Baroque Noëls, but nothing really appealed to me. However, I found this collection this morning, as well as another similar one, which I hope to do tomorrow.
Despite the fact these are titled "Pièces d’Orgue," they are not a suite. Rather, these were intended to be played during vespers, when the Magnificant is performed "in alternatim." That means, a verse is sung, followed by the organ playing to "replace" the chanting of the next verse, etc.
The idea of using Noëls is both clever and effective. It's clever, because the congregations of the day would have recognized these melodies, and effective, because they are quite "rustic," and really show the colors of the organ.
The melodies of some of these, such as the
"Trio - Noël Francois 'Quand le Saveur Jesus Christ fut né de Marie'" will be VERY familiar from the far more famous settings of d'Aquin and others, and the last "movement," the "Grand Jeu - Noël Flammand" sounds FAR more like a cannonade rather than a Christmas carol!
I can't understand why they chopped this poor guy's head off! His music certainly has "common appeal" if nothing else... ;-)
As an opportunity of contrast, you can listen to Hoofdwerk's (Erik Simmons) fine performance of a selection of these pieces here:
BRAVO and THANKS, Erik! :-)