Requiem, Maurice Duruflé; Kontakion for Bornholm, Kevin Duggan
Sunday, 12th November 2017
Review by Sasha Alexander
Kevin Duggan, organist of Dunblane Cathedral and Director of the Rosenethe Singers, composed his Kontakion for Bornholm in 2006 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Danish island from the Russians in 1946.
On Sunday, 12th November, he conducted the Rosenethe Singers in a vivid performance of the work to a packed Dunblane Cathedral. This was paired with the gentler Requiem by Duruflé, which was composed just after WW2. These two contrasting works showed the Rosenethe Singers at their best, displaying a wide range of dynamics, excellent diction and, in the Cantata, a strong sense of drama.
The Duruflé Requiem was the first item on the programme and from the Introit, which was beautifully supported and controlled, to the closing In Paradisum, the choir sang with a light, free sound, which enabled them to phrase well and also project words clearly. This worked especially well in the plainsongs sections which sounded natural and authentic, and in the high-lying dissonances in the Domine Jesu Christe.
The work is deceptively simple, but there are moments of complicated harmonies and rhythms, which the choir coped well with, and they achieved a good balance in the Agnus Dei with the men's voices coming through clearly and all blending perfectly.
The bright voiced tenor, Edward Woodhouse, sang confidently in the Libera Me and soprano, Belinda Evans, performed expressively and with good breath control in the Pie Jesu.
The gentle In Paradisum brought the work to a close peacefully and beautifully.
It was a pleasure to welcome Matthew Beetschen back as organ accompanist providing perfect support for the singers.
The Cantata, Kontakion for Bornholm, took us through the German and Russian occupations of the island describing the sounds of war using simple percussive effects, with letters and newspaper articles showing the sadness and loss of young Germans and Russians alongside the devastation of the inhabitants of Bornholm. Excellent word-setting brought all this vividly to life and the choir sang with strength and control, showing a high level of concentration and preparation.
The three soloists, Belinda Evans, Kirstie Wilson and Edward Woodhouse, sang with conviction and there was a moment of sheer magic when Kirstie Wilson, singing in Russian folk-song, walked out through the audience and this was followed by a final anthem full of hope for the future.
The accompanying instrumentalists played an important role adding colour to the performance and it all added up to a memorable performance.
Kevin Duggan deserves our thanks and congratulations for composing and presenting this moving work to us, and for conducting a concert of such high quality.
The audience loved it and we look forward to Bernstein and Janáček in April 2018.