WORKS: Requiem; Psalm 130
PERFORMER: Stephen Wallace (countertenor), Jeffrey Makinson (organ); Exon Singers/Matthew Owens
CATALOGUE NO: TROY 450
Completed in 1998, recorded in 2002 and released to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, to whose memory it is dedicated, the late George Lloyd’s last work is a setting of the Latin Requiem Mass. Perhaps precisely because Lynne Dawson’s account of Verdi’s ‘Libera me’ was such a memorable part of Diana’s funeral and might beg comparison, Lloyd cuts it, opting to end the work on a positive note with the ‘Lux aeterna’, more a counterpoint, perhaps, to ‘Candle in the Wind’. Not that Lloyd was aspiring to anything Verdian in scale. Completed two months before his own death, his Requiem is an essentially reflective Romantic chamber work for countertenor, choir and organ. It’s accessibly melodic, with a modal, neo-medieval style – especially in the first ‘Dies irae’ – and swirlingly Gothic organ-writing; and it is atmospherically mysterious and sincere in its devotion.
The 24 members of the Exon Singers, the chamber choir attached to Exeter Cathedral, sing with limpid purity of tone, their harmonies impeccably modulated and expertly disciplined. But in his efforts to emote, the soloist Stephen Wallace can seem a little overwrought and slightly overdoes the fruity tone. Claire Wrathall