Vierne: Messe Solennelle

Rarely have I felt such intensity as when singing Vierne’s Messe Solennelle with Fulham Camerata last Saturday.

It was one of those peak experiences so frequently read about and so mysterious as to be almost impossible to describe.

Our conductor himself (Harry Castle) is intense and intensely expressive.  It was fascinating to watch his face as he conducted the Kyrie, a heavy, brooding magnificent setting of those hallowed words preceded by equally heavy and expressive organ music.

The performance was greatly lifted by drafting in singers from Genesis Sixteen as well as our own choral scholars who are kind enough to put up with the rest of us. And we had a wonderful organist.

Harry’s face during the Kyrie was a joy to behold. After weeks of trying to persuade a recalcitrant and belligerent bunch to actually look at him, on this occasion I believe we all did so. And it really counted. Harry was clearly enjoying at least this part of the performance as much as I did.  I’m sure others must have noticed the flow, the sheer magic of this opening movement where for one of those all too rare occasions, we seemed to have got the picture. It was like riding a wave, an experience I will not forget.

Life does not get much better than this.

Here is a magnificent recording of the Kyrie from Notre Dame in Paris:

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