Resonus' final release in its series of recordings made by choral conductor John Scott and the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys covers two major works at the heart of their repertoire, the Requiem by Herbert Howells, and the Requiem, Op. 9 by Maurice Duruflé. Scott favored large-scale works by post-Romantic composers, and even though Howells and Duruflé reflected different musical styles, the gentle moods and lyricism of these pieces show a common humanistic understanding of death. The terrors of Judgment Day are far removed from these placid choral works, and it is significant that Howells and Duruflé rejected the Dies Irae sequence of the Missa pro defunctis, following the examples set before them by Johannes Brahms in Ein deutsches Requiem and Gabriel Fauré in his Requiem, Op. 48. Yet Howells' 1936 setting of non-standard texts in English also shows an affinity with Henry Walford Davies' Short Requiem in D, a 1915 work that clearly influenced Howells' use of psalms and minimal references to the Latin liturgy. Duruflé's Requiem, composed in 1947, follows the same Latin texts that Fauré had set, and similarly projects a feeling of calm acceptance and consolation. Between these extraordinary works is a short a cappella choral work by Ralph Vaughan Williams, on an excerpt from John Bunyan's A Pilgrim's Progress, which serves as a melancholy meditation appropriate to the program.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Requiem, Op. 9|