John Rutter / Cambridge Singers

Fauré: Requiem and Other Sacred Music

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Gabriel Fauré originally wrote his Requiem for liturgical use and gave the work's premiere in 1888. In 1893 he added two movements, the Offertoire and the Libera me. The Requiem received its first performance in the form in which it's most familiar, scored for full orchestra, in 1900. John Rutter's 1985 recording was the first to use the 1893 version, which was scored for strings, harp, timpani, horns, trumpets, and organ. This version is essentially a chamber work, and Rutter scales the chorus down in size to match the intimacy of the orchestration. The result is a more austere-sounding work, but one whose clarity and purity are revealed with fresh insight. Rutter's performance is notable for its spare, clean linearity; it achieves plenty of feeling without the Romantic richness of the full orchestra. The Cambridge Singers, which he founded, and members of the City of London Sinfonia perform with discipline, tone that is pure and luminous, and lyrical intensity. It's an altogether radiant performance that should interest anyone who loves the Requiem. Also included is a lovely performance of Le Cantique de Jean Racine, in a version with the accompaniment arranged for strings and harp by Rutter. The CD is filled out with equally affecting readings of Fauré's brief Messe basse for women's voices and organ and several short anthems. The sound is just a little on the bright side, but it's not entirely inappropriate for the chaste clarity of the choral sound.

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