What am I listening to? June 2017

Welcome back to "What am I listening to?" - a series in which I briefly talk about some of the music that has my attention of my mind at this time.

No.1 - Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers

Yet another one of the pieces that Ralph Allwood has introduced me to, this anthem for choir and two organist was written by renowned television composer Patrick Gowers. For many, he is forever linked to the ITV series portraying Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. According to Ralph Allwood, Gowers wanted to write a much vaster body of sacred music, but was stopped in his tracks by a severe stroke in his last years.

This piece starts quietly, with ghostly organ tremelos and the odd fanfare, before proceeding onward to a most powerful and uplifting middle section. The recording below is sung by the choir of Clare College, with the addition of the Dmitri Ensemble, all conducted by Graham Ross.

No.2 - Requiem Op.9 by Maurice Duruflè

This work could be described as little else than a masterpiece. Composed over a period of six years and finally completed in 1947, this work contains many references to the plainchant that Durufle was so fond of. Indeed, the opening "Requiem Aeternam" is a direct quotation of the plainchant melody. One can't help but imagine how it must have been perceived at its premiere in 1947, when the memories of WW2 were very fresh in people's minds.

The recording below is quite remarkable. Taken from the Bibliothèque nationale de France collection, it features Maurice Duruflè himself conducting the amassed voices of the Phillipe Caillard choir and the Stephane Caillat Vocal Ensemble, with the instrumental forces of the Orchestre Lamoureux, and the organ played by the composer's wife, Marie-Madeleine Duruflé.


© John Sturt 2020