Corydon Singers, English Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Best (conductor)
For Maurice Duruflé composition was a slow, laborious process involving constant revision and impeccable craftsmanship. After sixty years only ten works had been published—one fewer than his teacher Paul Dukas, a similarly fastidious perfectionist. Unlike his friend and fellow-student Olivier Messiaen, Duruflé eschewed the avant-garde experimentation that might have resulted in a fashionable new language, choosing instead a retrospective stance, looking to plainsong for his inspiration, and great French composers—Debussy, Ravel, Fauré and Dukas—for his models. He was known to feel ‘incapable of adding anything significant to the piano repertory, view the string quartet with apprehension, and envisage with terror the idea of composing a song after the finished examples of Schubert, Fauré and Debussy’. Instead, Duruflé composed for his two favourite media, orchestra and organ (he was renowned as a virtuoso organist), and both are united in his largest and perhaps most important work, the Requiem of 1947.