It's common to find the Requiem in D minor, the Cantique de Jean Racine, and the Messe basse of Gabriel Fauré programmed together, and at first glance, this 2014 SACD release from Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, resembles many other recordings of these beloved works. What distinguishes this performance of the Requiem, though, is the period treatment it receives in Marc Rigaudière's fresh reconstruction of the 1889 liturgical premiere. The choir of men and boys is accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, which employs a small string section, augmented by harp and brass, and the organist uses stops comparable to the registration of the organ in L'église de la Madeleine in Paris, where the work was first given. Somewhat surprising is the truncated offertory, the Hostias for baritone solo, which is the earliest version; for the sake of completeness, the full Offertoire in John Rutter's edition is provided separately (track 9). This isn't the first time Fauré's original version has been recorded, but this performance is remarkable for the pains Cleobury and his musicians have taken to render the work as close as possible to its first state. Similarly, the Cantique de Jean Racine is performed as originally written for choir and organ. This is a wonderful recording that will please listeners who are interested in historically informed performances, though many who love the better known 1901 orchestral version of the Requiem may be disappointed by the leaner feeling of this performance.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Requiem, op. 48|