March 18, 2010

Final Lenten Series Concert - Washington National Cathedral

20th Century France: Durufle Requiem

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Come to the Cathedral and join us for the fourth and final concert in the series of Lenten Concerts given by the National Cathedral’s concert ensemble, Cathedra. Twentieth-century France produced as rich a seam of liturgical music as has been seen in the history of western music. Arguably two of its giants were Francis Poulenc and Maurice Duruflé. In tonight’s program we hear the Four Lenten Motets of Poulenc and his unaccompanied Mass. The series closes with Durufle’s sublime Requiem, using his first edition with string orchestra and organ.
Poulenc composed music that reflects that fervent Catholicism of his paternal side and the provocative artistic heritage of his mother’s family. In the Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence, the former shines through. Although Poulenc’s inventive use of harmony and rhythm are far from conservative, his choice of texts and the intensity of their settings are unequaled. The Mass in G, on the other hand, plays more with musical texture and color, employing the singers like instruments, rather than striving toward the text painting achievements of his motets.
Duruflé’s Requiem ranks among the most beloved pieces in the Washington National Cathedral Choir’s repertoire. The precise counterpoint of the Kyrie, the ecstatic climaxes of the Domine Jesu Christe and Sanctus, and the powerful restraint of the solo Pie Jesu are a breathtaking sequence of musical events. The angelic conclusion of the In Paradisum transports the listener and singer alike into a higher realm of consciousness.

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