Philip Ledger / David Willcocks

Fauré: Requiem; Pavane; Duruflé: Requiem

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Since the advent of the compact disc, the Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, of Gabriel Fauré and the Requiem, Op. 9, of Maurice Duruflé have frequently been paired, not only because they neatly fit the running time, but also because they are complementary pieces. Both reflect a gentle, humanistic view of death in the choice of benign texts from the Missa pro defunctis and include prayers from the burial rite Libera Me and In Paradisum. Fauré and Duruflé also omitted the sequence Dies Irae, with its stark imagery and frightening depiction of the Last Judgment. Musically, Fauré's Requiem had a profound influence on Duruflé, and both works have a calm tone of consolation, as opposed to the more theatrical effects found in Requiems by Cherubini, Berlioz, or Verdi. Among classic performances, the recordings by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, on EMI are easy to recommend, and the interpretations by conductors David Willcocks and Philip Ledger are widely recognized as sensitive and subtle. This album includes a recording of Fauré's popular Pavane as a filler piece between the Requiems, and this purely instrumental piece almost serves as an intermission, made necessary because the religious expressions of these masterpieces are deeply moving and a brief secular break is perhaps welcome. Even though the two Fauré recordings were made in 1967 and the Duruflé in 1980, the ADD sound of this album is clean and focused, and most details are plainly audible.

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