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Winner of the coveted Prix de Rome, Alfred Desenclos remains an almost unknown figure in twentieth-century music. 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.It forms the centrestone of David Trendell’s programme, which also features music by Villette – who shared Desenclos’ interest in jazz – and Poulenc, whose return to Catholicism in 1936 initiated a line of pieces, beginning with the Litanies a la Vierge noire de Rocamadour, that represent some of the most significant religious choral music of the twentieth century.Trendell’s choir is on ravishing form, and the organ at his alma mater, Exeter College, Oxford, partners this music like a velvet glove.
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