Requiem Reflections
Fauré & Duruflé
Saturday 8 July 2017 at 7:30pm
  Date:  Saturday 8 July 2017
  Time: 7:30pm
  Venue:  St Matthew’s Church, Kettering Road, Northampton, NN1 4RY
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Tonight’s concert includes Requiem settings by two French composers who took a number of years to craft their creations. Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem was commissioned in 1941 by the collaborationist Vichy regime, but Duruflé - by choice - took as many years to craft it as it took for the regime to fall, and he completed it in 1947, dedicating it to the memory of his father. However, it began as a set of organ pieces based on the Gregorian chants used in the Mass for the Dead; indeed Duruflé had already sketched out his organ suite when he received the commission. It is influenced by his study of Ravel, Debussy, Dukas and especially the Fauré Requiem, which it reflects in the choice of structure and order (aside from the addition of Lux æterna between the Agnus Dei and Libera me), and in its enphasis on tranquillity, rest, and peace (unlike, say, the thunder and grief of Berlioz and Verdi).

Fauré’s Requiem began with his Libera me composed for baritone solo and organ (with no choir) in 1877. This was not included in the Requiem’s first version in 1887, then in 1893 - after continued work - it was included, alongside a new Offertoire. A further version appeared in 1900, with a much grander orchestral score (at the encouragement of his publisher, eager to “cash in” on the work’s popularity), but it was intended as an intimate work for choir and small instrumental forces. It is almost certainly a musical tribute to his father, who died in 1885, and it was altogether different from the now-traditional grand Requiem because here was a composer who, unlike many of his contemporaries, had no clear religious beliefs. In place of the sombre nature of many Requiem settings that had gone before, Fauré’s is noted for its calm, serene and peaceful outlook. In it we find musical solace in a work that focuses not on the morbid, but on the supposedly restful and fear-free nature of death.

During the interval of the concert, the choir launch their fourth commercial CD release, also entitled Requiem Reflections, which features all of tonight’s performers in a recording of Fauré’s choral works, including the Requiem, as well as the Cantique de Jean Racine, Messe Brève, Pavane, Tantum ergo, and solo harp work Une châtelaine en sa tour. Please keep an eye on our website for details of pre-release orders at a discounted price.


Northampton Bach Choir
Harp - Rowena Bass
Violin - Stephen Hague
Cello - Corinne Malitskie
Organ - Stephen Moore
Soprano - Philippa Hyde
Baritone - Gwion Thomas,
Conductor - Lee Dunleavy

Duruflé - Requiem
Fauré - Requiem

Philippa Hyde

Philippa Hyde commenced her singing studies with Ann Lampard and continued under the tuition of David Johnston and Yvonne Minton CBE at the Royal Academy of Music. She graduated with the coveted Dip RAM in 1993. In 2001 she was awarded the ARAM, an honour granted to past students of the Academy who have achieved distinction in their profession. Philippa is an experienced recording artist, and has been a regular soloist for Hyperion Records. In 2016 she recorded the solo parts of Fauré’s Requiem, alongside the Messe brève, with the Northampton Bach Choir.

Gwion Thomas

Gwion Thomas was born in South Wales and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, graduating with Distinction. He has regularly works with Welsh National Opera, Stowe Opera, and Scottish Opera, as well as at the Aldeburgh Festival. Past prestigious recitals include Schubert Institute, Kent Opera Janus Series, Manchester Midday Concerts, and Machynlleth Festival, where he has performed the Schubert Song-Cycles. In 2016 he recorded the solo parts of Fauré’s Requiem, alongside the Messe brève, with the Northampton Bach Choir.