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23.10.12

Gregorian Chant Supreme

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Charles T. Downey, Cathedral Choral Society opens 71st season
Washington Post, October 23, 2012

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Duruflé, Complete Choral Works, Choir of Trinity College Cambridge
The Cathedral Choral Society opened its 71st season with a tribute to the flowering of late romantic music in France. This grand program, at Washington National Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, combined the cathedral’s imposing organ, multiple choruses and a vast orchestra, which are not always suited to the cavernous space.

In Maurice Durufle’s evanescent setting of the Latin Requiem Mass, a lush rethinking of the Gregorian chant melodies for the Mass of the Dead, the combined forces murmured and undulated. Durufle was perhaps the most skilled composer of the 20th century at setting Gregorian chant, a body of music that he revered; late in life, he railed against its removal from the Catholic liturgy in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. The composer’s original large orchestration sometimes came close to smothering the chorus, kept intentionally soft, but it made for transporting climaxes in the “Domine Jesu Christe” and “Osanna” sections. [Continue reading]
Cathedral Choral Society
Duruflé, Requiem
Saint-Saëns, Symphony No. 3
Washington National Cathedral

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