Review by George Fleeton © 2013
Billed as a ‘Musical Offering for Holy Week,’ the event in Down Cathedral (March 25), was effectively a showcase for Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem (Opus 9), a lesser known work in the great panoply of classical Requiems by Mozart, Berlioz, Brahms, Fauré, and, in this year of anniversaries, Verdi and Britten.
Composed in 1947, it was orchestrated here for organ, choir, baritone, cello obbligato and mezzo, and these parts were taken, respectively, by David Leigh, Cathedra, Andrew Masterson (who deputised for Michael Brown), Alexandra Desbruslais and Mary McCabe.
Gregorian chant predominated, reflecting, in all nine movements, the agony of man faced with the mystery of his final end; and while the baritone, cello and mezzo parts were very short (in a work that lasts about 45 minutes) they were no less effective for that.
Michael McCracken conducted with passion and intense involvement with every line of the score.
In the first part of the evening – a preface to this Requiem – we had an opportunity to savour some choral pieces by Rachmaninov and Mendelssohn, and two organ solos.
The previous day, in St Patrick’s Church Downpatrick, there had been a Recital of sacred music for Palm Sunday, featuring Debra Stuart, Catherine Harper and Michael McCracken in a diverse programme of song and organ solos.
The next Arts reviews on Down News will include Ellen Kent’s recent touring productions of Tosca and Carmen.