The Choir Of King's College, London - Desenchos, Poulenc, Villette

Published Monday 19th May 2014
The Choir Of King's College, London - Desenchos, Poulenc, Villette
The Choir Of King's College, London  - Desenchos, Poulenc, Villette

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Delphian DCD34136

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Of the three composers featured on this album only Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) has previously been reviewed by yours truly and here we get his relatively well known "Litanies a la Vierge Noire". Alfred Desenclos (1912-1971) remains an almost unknown figure in 20th century music despite winning the coveted Prix de Rome in 1942. His contribution to the distinguished French tradition of Requiem Mass settings dates from 1963; incorporating influences from Gregorian chant as well as rich harmonies based on added-note chords, this piece with its passionate outpourings is a revelation. Also he contributes two motets which, although enjoyable, do not catch the ear in the way his Requiem does. The third composer is Pierre Villette (1926-1998) who gives us three motets which I enjoyed but, like those from Desenclos, did not remember after they had finished. Thus this CD stands or falls on the Desenclos "Messe de Requiem" which takes just over half the 60 minutes of the disc. Being neither a Roman Catholic nor French I am less than qualified to comment but I do know good choral singing when I hear it and here The Choir of King's College London is on top form with the organ of Exeter College, Oxford sounding equally good. The organists are Christopher Woodward on the Requiem and Richard Hall on the Poulenc with the other tracks being sung a cappella. And while we are handing out plaudits we note the clarity of the recording courtesy of producer/engineer Paul Baxter and, above all, we praise David Trendell for bringing it all together. This is well worth hearing for the quality of the singing and if, like me, you are unfamiliar with the composers then this is an ideal opportunity to make their better acquaintance.

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