To say the least, I quite enjoyed Thursday evening’s excellent performance of the Duruflé Requiem from the University of Tennessee Chamber Singers and Concert Choir with the UT Symphony Orchestra with Angela Batey conducting.
This was a marvelous and enlightening performance, notwithstanding one or two very minor shaky orchestral and choral entrances. The phrasing brought the chant melodies, on which Duruflé based his work, into a wonderful perspective. The Gregorian rhythms seemed perfectly natural, even a bit understated. Listeners were apt to get lost in the refreshingly lush orchestral and choral harmonies, so much so that the climaxes of each movement came all too soon. Balance-wise, I would have preferred to hear a touch more volume from the organ, although such a determination in the Cox Auditorium can only be made from the auditorium itself due to the hall’s acoustical qualities and arrangement. There were several nicely played instrumental moments–in particular from the English horn and bassoon.
It’s clear that the Requiem is quite the masterpiece of Duruflé’s career—it’s reputation will only grow stronger with the years.