We are delighted with the discovery of the Stabat Mater sung in Breton language by Yann-Fañch Kemener.
Yann-Fañch Kemener was a singer and an ethno musicological researcher. He was born in 1957, in the heart of Fañch/Plinn country on the borders of Vannes, France. Breton was his mother tongue. he had a beautiful voice, and by the age of fifteen he was performing on stage. Kemener founded the legendary Breton music group Barzaz, which played with various elements, including the purity of the voice, silences, sound effects, and Hopi Hopkins’ bells. This gave the impression that the wind or the rain were integral parts of our music.
Yann-Fañch Kemener sings four stanzas of the Stabat Mater (in Breton language) as a gwerz, a epic narrative lament, traditionally sung unaccompanied. The melody of his Stabat Mater goes back to the melodies he learned as a child and to the songs he recorded when he heard other Breton singers. Some elements of the Gregorian chant can also be heard in it.
The recording of his Stabat Mater must have been a moving and impressive moment. Denis Raisin Dade, conductor, in his memorial tribute to Kemener’s passing in 2019: he was alone in Fontevraud Abbey, at two o’clock in the morning. The impact of his unaccompanied singing, which carried the memory of an entire people, was overwhelming.