Duruflé Requiem, 4th November 2016

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Singers impress with ambitious programme

Isle of Wight County Press
11th November 2016

ORPHEUS SINGERS, supporting the 2020 vision for developing St John’s Church in Newport, gave us an evening of enormous variety last Saturday. Beginning in sombre mood with Mozart’s Kyrie, they then sang the glorious unaccompanied Crucifixus by Lotti, which begins with soft low basses and then sweeps you up as it rises,  gathering the emotions to an uplifting climax. This is the essence of Orpheus Singers who have such a unity of tone. We were ready then for Bach’s motet Lobet den Herrn, with its musical decoration, inimitable rhythm and its utter joyfulness. Bach in this mood makes you smile and Orpheus did not fail.

So to Durufle’s Requiem, a 20th century gem, unknown to me. The organist is crucial to this work and Douglas  Potts  gave  an impressive performance. The soloists, Ali St-Denis (mezzo soprano) and Bruce Russell (baritone), with their rich voices brought passion and drama, particularly, Bruce in “Libera me” and Ali’s “ Pie Jesu” which was so haunting.

The changes in tempo between organ and choir were challenging, but Philip Fryer, conductor, made it look simple and the choir responded with confidence and little hesitancy. An ambitious programme, so early in their season, must have exhausted everyone, but the satisfaction of accomplishment and the delight of the audience were well worth it.

LESLEY ANN BRYANT

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