Review: The Faure Requiem Tour, Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral

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Inspired concept, inspiring concert. The City of London Sinfonia and conductor Stephen Layton are touring cathedrals to perform a beautifully-crafted programme of English and French music with their resident choirs and organist – and the formula is a winner.

Faure’s Requiem is the main work, performed in the authentic edition for small orchestra, and here soloists drawn from the ranks – Oliver Nash (treble) and Danny Purtell (bass) – highlighted the choir’s unforced, eloquence under Layton’s lyrical direction.

The tour also features a new piece by Gabriel Jackson, Countless And Wonderful Are The Ways To Praise God.

This follows today’s choral trend of unchallenging harmonies, but is dramatically potent in response to words such as ‘exultation’ and ‘holy’, bubbles with subtle rhythmic interest and unusually features a movingly extended viola solo.

Cathedral organist David Price found all the subtle and dramatic colours as soloist in Poulenc’s concerto – yet nothing quite surpassed the concert’s opening sequence.

Here the choir sang the Tallis theme that inspired the Vaughan Williams Fantasia, which the orchestra’s strings instantly took up. Simple idea, magically executed.