> George LLOYD Requiem Psalm 130[]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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George LLOYD (1913-1998)
Requiem (1997)
Psalm 130 (1995)
Stephen Wallace (counter-tenor)
Jeffrey Makinson (organ)
The Exon Singers/Matthew Owens
rec 2002 DDD
ALBANY TROY 450 [61.30]


Be clear: this is not the grand or even grandiose George Lloyd of the Pervigilium Veneris or the Litany or the Mass. These are not works with soloists and a Verdian orchestra. In fact in the case of the Mass (which takes up all but about ten minutes of the disc) the organ is the only accompaniment. The Mass was Lloyd's last work written ‘under sentence of mortality’ and with full realisation that it could only be completed if the music was pared down to small chorus and organ.

In the Requiem the Exon Singers sound like a larger body than the composer's specification led me to expect while the counter-tenor is too tremulous for my taste though nothing important is lost. References and potential influences are the Miserere by Allegri, Britten's Saint Cecilia, Holst's Choral Symphony and just the occasional glimpse of Orff at one moment (not very many of those) and Fauré at the next. The Rex tremendae is very affirmative and the Dies Irae has razory teeth and slashing talons. The final section of the Requiem is the Lux Aeterna in which a restful sequence of tumbling phrases for the organ. This includes the most inventive choral writing which is always melodious and consonant with the mollifying comfort of the Requiem.

The Psalm 130 (De Profundis clamavi) was written in 1995 for a cappella choir to a commission by John D. Owens. Stylistically it is very much of a piece with the Requiem. The text is in English. It is not printed in the booklet unlike that of the Requiem. The sopranos achieve the ecstatic 'blue note' purity you find in Stanford's The Bluebird and in the sung word harmony in Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music. There is more contrast between vigour and reflection in the Psalm than there is in the Requiem.

The score of the Requiem carries the inscription 'written in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales'. It was completed on 23 January 1998 and Lloyd died on 3 July that year.

This disc will be a compulsory acquisition for any Lloyd fan but it will also be lovingly appreciated by any admirer of the vocal music of Fauré, Rutter or Holst. A lovely remembrance of a warm-hearted composer who wrote against the spirit of the times and whose music finally met success. His was a dazzling creativity that reached its apex in symphonies 4-7 and the Pervigilium. Requiescat in pacem.

Rob Barnett


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