Once described as a "lullaby of death," Gabriel Fauré's Requiem is a work of supreme composure that seems to illustrate the gentlest of goings into that good night. This recording bucks the current trend favoring the composer's original version for reduced chamber orchestra, offering the fully orchestrated edition from 1899. The result gives a solid, spacious context for Fauré's modal lyricism, his interplay of light and shadow, to unfold. onductor Myun-Whung Chung at times even suggests a dark undertow of despair, as in the funereal plunge and tread of the Introit, yet he is also keenly sensitive to the agnostic composer's essentially sensuous textures (listen to the dark amber interweaving of inner string lines in the Offertorium), thereby escaping the potential sentimentality that sometimes pits Fauré's vision unfavorably against the robust fire and fury of Verdi's Requiem. In this regard, Chung's choice of soloists is ideal. Cecilia Bartoli's rendition of the Pie Jesu will stop you in your tracks (simply one of the most achingly beautiful examples of her artistry), while Bryn Terfel uses the rich resonance of his baritone to powerful effect. Maurice Duruflé's Fauré-inspired Requiem, offered as the coupling, is likewise given in its fully orchestrated version. The patient serenity of its culminating In Paradisum seems to offer a harmony of the spheres for our age of anxiety. --Thomas May
While not everyone will give this magnificent recording the chance it deserves because it may seem irreverent to praise full-bodied performances of two delicate French masterpieces, those who truly love both the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems will find much to love here. Myung-Whun Chung has opted to record the full orchestra/full mixed chorus versions of these two works usually heard in the pared-down versions for church settings, and in doing so he unveils even more mysteries than one would think possible. Chung knows the French repertoire well, having been associated with French Opera in France for many seasons. And here he draws upon the Chorus and Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia as well as the full-bodied, intelligent and sensitive voices of singers Bryn Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli as his soloists.
The result: dreamily romantic reading of these beautiful scores. Though Bartoli is a mezzo-soprano in name, her range is so vast that she offers the most genuinely spiritual 'Pie Jesu' in the Fauré in this listener's history. The same can be said for Terfel's involved singing. Often these solos are given to minor singers and it is a thrill to hear them from the gifted voices of two of today's finest recitalists. Chung draws gorgeous sounds from his gathered ensemble and produces the warmest, romantic performances these two Requiems are likely to enjoy.
Different interpretations, yes, but still very much in the core of both composers' concepts. Highly recommended.--Grady Harp
Requiem, for 2 solo voices, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 48 Composed by Gabriel Faure Performed by Roma Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Cecilia Bartoli, Enrico Balboni, Daniele Rossi, Luigi Piovano, Bryn Terfel Conducted by Myung-Whun Chung
Requiem, for orchestra, organ & chorus; for organ & chorus; for small ensemble, organ & chorus, Op. 9 (3 versions) Composed by Maurice Durufle Performed by Roma Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Cecilia Bartoli, Enrico Balboni, Daniele Rossi, Luigi Piovano, Bryn Terfel Conducted by Myung-Whun Chung