Winchester Cathedral - 8th May 2010
Conductor: Derek Beck
Soloists: Claire Seaton (soprano), Deborah Miles-Johnson (mezzo), Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks (tenor), Michael Bundy (bass)
Choirs: Twyford Singers, Botley Choral Society, Overton Choral Society, Sarisbury Choral Society
Unlike Duruflé, Verdi was not a church composer. His response to the Requiem words reflects his experiences and successes in the opera house. Wonderfully impassioned and at times lyrical themes for a quartet of soloists are matched by considerable variety and intensity of choral textures. We move from bar-less liturgical chant through gorgeous unisons and eight-part fugal writing to the terror of the oft-repeated Dies Irae. The drama is underpinned throughout by a massive orchestra including additional percussion and 'off-stage' brass. It is not surprising that Brahms declared 'only a genius could write something like this'
Review of concert
Romsey Abbey - 15th May 2010
Conductor: David Burgess
Soloists: Elinor Carter (soprano), Jimmy Holliday (bass)
Choirs: Winchester City Festival Choir, Compton & Shawford Festival Choir, Itchen Valley Choral Society
Maurice Durufle's beautiful setting of the Requiem for the Dead makes haunting use of medieval plainsong themes clothed in atmospheric, impressionistic harmonies learned from his teacher Paul Dukas (of Sorcerer's Apprentice fame). Gently syncopated rhythms and well-paced use of brass and organ alongside strings have helped keep this, one of Durufle's few major compositions, a significant part of the serious> choral repertoire. Syncopation of a decidedly Latin American kind adds memorable colour to the joyful version of the Song of Mary - the Magnificat - by England's ever-successful and popular choral composer, John Rutter. One of the few fully scored settings of this Biblical text, the work also features lyrical soprano solos and an arrangement of the medieval English text Of a Rose. Rutter even echoes Durufle in his occasional use of plainsong quotations, though his exciting harmonies are definitely late 20th century.
Review of concert