Birmingham Bach Choir: Fauré Requiem

Faure: Requiem

Summer concert programme celebrates the work of leading French composers spanning 500 years.

As we head into summer Birmingham Bach Choir present a programme of romantic and sublime French music, centred around Gabriel Fauré’s much loved Requiem (17 June 2017, Pershore Abbey, Worcs; 24 June, St Philip’s Cathedral, B’ham).

First performed in the late 19th century, and believed to have been written for his late father, Requiem features some of Fauré’s most beautiful melodies. Very different from many earlier traditional Catholic masses for the dead, here the drama and fright of the Last Judgement has been replaced by an astonishing peace and calm – as heard in the famous Pie Jesu (soprano solo) and final In Paradisium movements in particular.

Revered as “one of the most sublime works in the sacred classical canon” (BBC Music), Darcey Bussell, Roald Dahl and Kirsty Young all selected Requiem for their Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4).

Accompanying Fauré’s masterpiece is a selection of complementary pieces by French composers spanning 500 years, both familiar and lesser known.

Of the latter, Dominique Phinot’s Pater peccavi in caelum and Gloria will be a revelation to those unfamiliar with the composer. Though clearly skilled, innovative and also prolific – in the region of 150 pieces are attributed to him – little is known about Phinot’s life, though it’s believed he was executed for his sexuality in the mid-1500s, tragically cutting short an impressive career.

Jean Mouton is another Renaissance composer renowned in his time but now relatively unknown. A sometime priest and later employed at the French court he was most famous for his motets, and is thought to have been in charge of France’s elaborate musical festivities at the historic summit between King François I and Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, in 1520. The programme includes his Alleluia, confitemini Domino, sacred music for four voices, sung a cappella.

Better known to English audiences is the music of Poulenc and Duruflé, although not perhaps the selected pieces, both tributes to fallen friends: Salve Regina by Poulenc, and Duruflé’s organ piece Prelude and Fugue on Alain. Together with three motets by Pierre Villette they form a collection of works by 20th century French masters, all with keenly personal idioms.

“The French are a nation of romantics at heart,” says Paul Spicer, the choir’s Music Director and Conductor. “Their language is a sensual one and their music is often a reflection of this.

“Our Summer programme is a celebration of all things French, from the mid-1500s to modern times, from the much-loved to lesser known, with Dominique Phinot being the great discovery. His passionate outpourings and soul-searching affect all who hear and perform his works.”

Birmingham Bach Choir’s Requiem can be heard at Pershore Abbey, Pershore, Worcestershire, on Saturday 17 June 2017, and is repeated at St Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham, on Saturday 24 June 2017. For tickets and more information call 07901 798442 or see: www.birmingham.bachchoir.com

LISTINGS:

Birmingham Bach Choir: Fauré Requiem

Saturday 17 June 2017
Pershore Abbey, Church St, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 1DT
7.30pm
£15 (£12.50 concessions)
Available online, by email: tickets@birmingham.bachchoir.com or via 07901 798442.
www.birmingham.bachchoir.com

Saturday 24 June 2017 at 7.30pm
St Philip’s Cathedral, Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 2QB
7.30pm
Nave: £15 (£12.50 concessions); South Gallery: £8
Available online, by email: tickets@birmingham.bachchoir.com or via 07901 798442.
www.birmingham.bachchoir.com

Mouton – Alleluia, confitemini Domino
Domenique Phinot – Pater peccavi in caelum / Gloria (Missa Si bona suscepimus)
Poulenc – Salve Regina
Duruflé – Prelude and Fugue on Alain (organ)
Pierre Villette – O quam amabilis es / Jesu, dulcis memoria / Panis Angelicus
Fauré – Cantique de Jean Racine / Requiem

Birmingham Bach Choir
Paul Spicer – Conductor
Martyn Rawles – Organ

ABOUT BIRMINGHAM BACH CHOIR:

As one of the UK’s leading large chamber choirs Birmingham Bach Choir has been contributing to the musical life of the West Midlands since 1919, making it one of the longest established musical groups in the area. Although the main focus is the Baroque period (especially JS Bach), the choir performs music spanning over 300 years including 20th and 21st century works.

A huge degree of dynamic subtlety… exhilarating… a wonderful evening.”  5-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Magnificat at Birmingham Cathedral, March 2015).

“The real deal…” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing A Shakespearean Concert, June 2016)

“Sounding awesomely impressive.” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing Great Russian Sacred Music, November 2016)

“very powerful” – Express and Star (reviewing Messiah, April 2017)

“Singing of passion, grace…” 4-stars – Birmingham Post (reviewing St Mark Passion, March 2017)

Future concerts include JS Bach’s B Minor Mass at Birmingham Town Hall on Thursday 30 November 2017.

For more information see: www.birmingham.bachchoir.com

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