DURUFLÉ'S Requiem is one of the outstanding works of the 20th century which expresses all the sentiments a person feels about death - fear, repentance, yearning and a hope for the peace we are all offered in paradise.
Under the baton of conductor Aidan Oliver, Wokingham Choral
Society accompanied by organist Denny Lyster synthesised these feelings in an impressive
and beautiful performance.
The Agnus Dei, with its hint of plainsong, was well
controlled while the Offertory and the Responsory were passionate
in their appeal for mercy.
It would not be an exaggeration to say In Paradisum was
perfect, with the organ mysterious, ethereal and spiritual. The singing was
smooth and calm as it moved steadily to the final pianissimo words habeas
Julian Empett sang the baritone appeal for mercy in the Offertory
with warmth emphasising the choir's impassioned cries.
The first part of the programme included other works by
French composers, featuring Rosie Biss giving a touching performance of Fauré's
haunting cello piece Après un rêve expressing the sad feeling of loss
after happiness has gone.
Susan Atherton sang Gounod's Ave Maria and it was
good to hear this favourite among the audience again.
The choir ended with a hearty performance of Willcock's
arrangement of Widor's Sing! which was bright, neatly sung with a grand
Hallelujah at the end.