Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924) Requiem, Op. 48 (1893) [36:01] Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11 (1863-1864) [5:18]
(soprano); Stéphane Degout (baritone)
Accentus; Members of the National Orchestra of France/Laurence
rec. Basilica de Saint-Cothilde, Paris, France, January 2008. NAÏVE
has made great progress in the last few years at improving
the quality of choral singing in France. She has even started
her own institute to train young singers for future careers
in professional choirs. For this she is to be greatly admired,
as even just ten years ago, the standards for choirs there
were disappointingly low.
It is a bit disheartening
then that we get a rather run-of-the-mill performance of two
war-horses in this all too brief recording by Accentus and
simple and reverent Requiem mass gets performed and recorded
rather often and seldom particularly well. Ms. Equilbey gets
a fine tone from her chorus, but the recording seems to mask
the choir’s sound a bit and we never get to hear a completely
resonant production, despite the fine building in which the
recording was made. There is certainly nothing wrong with the
blend or intonation, but overall, the performance was rather
uninspired and seemed to be approached as more of an obligation
than a pleasure. Tempos are right on though, and it is a relief
to hear this work stripped of the dirge-ishness that some conductors
apply to what are some of the most beautifully written vocal
lines in choral music.
particularly baritone Stéphane
Degout, whose warm rich and clear tone sails over the orchestra
in the Libera me, and is achingly beautiful in the Hostias,
give this performance some added bonus points. Sandrine Piau
has a fine clear soprano, but her reading of the Pie Jesu is
a little too thin and reedy.
The disc is sort
of filled out with a nice reading of the popular Cantique
de Jean Racine, the only French piece in the repertoires
of many English-speaking choirs!
What is left to
be understood is why Naïve would issue a forty-one minute disc
at full price when there are so many other appropriate works
that could have been added. Another performance of Duruflé’s Requiem or
hurt anyone now would it? Because of its short duration and
the above-mentioned qualms, this disc is sadly relegated to
the also-rans. Stick with Robert Shaw’s stunning performances
of this and the Duruflé masses
on Telarc if you want the best bang for your buck.
uninspired performances and far too brief a running time kill
this one, sorry.
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