Remembrance is a new CD, on the Harmonia Mundi label, from the Choir of Clare College and their director Graham Ross to be released October 21st in time for poppy season. The main event is a performance of Duruflé’s Requiem given here in the composer’s organ reduction. It’s recorded in Lincoln Cathedral with its great Father Willis organ. It’s a very polished performance with a fair bit of drama. There’s some lovely singing and cello playing from mezzo Jennifer Johnston and cellist Guy Johnston in the Pie Jesu and bass Neal Davies also makes a couple of trenchant contributions. It’s not one of the most performed requiems but definitely worth a listen.For me though the most interesting music on the disk is the varied unaccompanied pieces that preceded the mass. These were all to English texts ranging from a Kievan setting of the Kontakion of the Dead to Taverner’s Song for Athene via 16th and 17th century settings of texts from Samuel and a most beautiful arrangement of Abide with Me (by Graham Ross), among others. The descant in the third stanza of Abide with Me is gorgeous. All of this is sung with beauty and restraint; firmly in the Anglican choral tradition (though the high voices here are women not boys).
Predictably Lincoln Cathedral provides quite a lot of resonance in the Requiem and this is true of the other tracks too (recorded in Ely cathedral?). The recording captures this well enough though I felt that the Lincoln organ is probably capable of a more tectonic sound than comes through on this recording. That might be an artefact of listening to the record via FLAC files which I am not ideally set up for though. Full texts are included as well as very informative notes by Graham Ross.
Overall then, an interesting collection including some rarities. Just the thing for when one is in a reflective mood (or one needs to persuade a Bengal to stop yowling obsessively).