Monday, October 17, 2011

Fauré: Requiem/Super Flumina Babylonis/Cantique de Jean Racine, etc – review

Tim Ashley
13 October 2011

Jaroussky/Goerne/Choeur de l'Orchestre de Paris/Orchestre de Paris/Järvi (Virgin Classics)

4 out of 5
However admirable Paavo Järvi's performance of Fauré's Requiem may be, it's the motet Super Flumina Babylonis that provides the main focus on this disc. Fauré wrote it when he was 18. It was never published in his lifetime, and this, surprisingly, is its first recording. Its melodic contours and harmonic structure suggest a debt to Gounod. But the choral writing, with its careful gradations of weight and intensity, is very much Fauré's own. So, too, is the work's impeccably understated sense of drama, which suits Järvi's severe, monumental way with Fauré. Indeed, Järvi brings these qualities to the Requiem, delivering an uncompromisingly stark yet deeply sincere account of a score often viewed sentimentally. The choral singing is magnificent throughout, though the sopranos have a curious habit of dropping their consonants. Philippe Jaroussky (otherworldly) and Matthias Goerne (indifferent) are the less than ideally matched soloists. It's a nicely balanced recording, allowing us to appreciate the immense subtlety of Fauré's orchestration. The performance of the Cantique de Jean Racine is one of the most beautiful I know.

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