.It’s been three days since I stood in still silence with the 130 other singers of [a choral ensemble] at the conclusion of our performance of Duruflé’s Requiem… The last reverberations of that final, astonishing unresolved chord floated up to the domed ceiling of [venue], taking with them the prayers, thoughts, or reveries of the assembled listeners… For a long, long moment, time seemed to stop, as [the director] held his hands still and open before him; it was as if he held our sound, and held us all, and even held, for all to see, this great work of Maurice Duruflé. In that moment, I experienced the spiritual equivalent of a flash of light, as if I had had a sudden glimpse into Duruflé’s own understanding of his Requiem. Perhaps I was internalizing what I saw reflected in [the director]'s face – some sort of humility, and love, and respect for this composer’s quiet brilliance; it doesn't matter. The connection was unmistakably present.
That final hummed M of “requiem” was the last sound that we would make together after a week of work and rehearsal. It was an amazing week of discovery for me, new as I am to Duruflé’s music.
Of course, the most thrilling moments were the ecstatic Sanctus of the Requiem (brought to an explosive climax with that inspired crescendo beyond fff! Beyond beyond!) and Larry Allen’s brilliantly virtuosic organ performance in Duruflé’s Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’ALAIN.
But this morning, far away in time and place, I find the quiet arabesques of the Agnus Dei entwining in my aural awareness and overriding all my other memories of the week and the performance… How heartbreakingly beautiful it is… I will always remember the supple melodies of voice and organ finding each other in that resonant space, confident in beauty and reassuring in gentleness.