The Perth Concert Hall provided a fitting setting in Holy Week for the performance of the Duruflé Requiemand Bach’s Easter Oratorio, with St George’s Cathedral Consort accompanied by a reduced West Australian Symphony Orchestra directed by Joseph Nolan.

Joseph Nolan conducting members of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra

The Duruflé Requiemhas a well-crafted flowing modal style. Regarded as an organ pedagogue, Maurice Duruflé published only 11 works. This composition was premiered in 1947 using the Latin texts of the Requiem Mass, omitting the Dies Irae. The overall mood is calm and meditative, with intermittent bursts of drama reminding us of the message in the Mass requesting repose for the soul. Duruflé possessed an unparalleled understanding of harmony and Gregorian Chant. Together with the irregular pulse of the vocal writing this produces an almost mesmeric vocal line. Unlike the Fauré Requiemand despite its rare grace and beauty, the harmonic writing in the score might initially be considered unappealing, but the haunting feel of the work demands further listening.

In this performance, we heard the organ accompaniment version, with sensitive accompaniment from...