The four motets of 1960 are ideal companion pieces for the Requiem, each being based on the requisite Gregorian chant in the same way as the movements of the larger work. Here Duruflé shows his particular genius for invoking the spiritual element of plainsong in a polyphonic context, achieving a suppleness of rhythm alongside strong characterization of each text. Ubi caritas et amor
flows freely and syllabically in a meditative fashion, while Tota pulchra es
(for high voices) is lighter and more sprightly, yet soft and feminine. Tu es Petrus
is a rousing and optimistic work, the churches’ foundation on the rock of Peter being indicated by the building of the motet on its canonic opening to a strong and sturdy final cadence. Tantum ergo
returns us to the meditative, wistful style which characterizes so much of the Requiem; the concluding ‘Amen’ settles as a sigh on this group of motets, crystallizing as they do the essence of Duruflé’s considered, yet inspired musical language.
from notes by Wadham Sutton © 1989