Winner of the coveted Prix de Rome, Alfred Desenclos remains an almost unknown figure in 20th-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 à la Vierge noire de Rocamadour', that represent some of the most significant religious choral music of the 20th 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.
“This Requiem will appeal to anyone who likes the settings by Fauré and Duruflé...David Trendell gets a first-rate performance from his choir, full of light and shade, and the few solo passages give no cause for apprehension...The recorded sound, from the chapel of Exeter College, Oxford, is quite wonderful.” Gramophone