Since the invention of long-playing recordings, Duruflé and Fauré's Requiems have been coupled together. The two most popular Requiems by French composers since Berlioz wrote his blockbuster Requiem, Duruflé and Fauré's Requiems are quiet, intimate, and devotional -- three qualities Berlioz' Requiem emphatically is not. With their restrained emotions, reserved harmonic palette, and complete faith in the resurrection of the dead, Duruflé and Fauré's Requiems form a wholly fitting pairing.
This particular coupling with Fredrick Malmberg leading the Swedish Radio Choir features not the familiar orchestral accompanied versions of the works but rather the organ accompanied original versions. This adds immeasurably to the devotional quality of the performances, making them seem more than ever Requiems intended to be performed in context of church services. The Swedish Choir is a rich, full, and immaculately groomed ensemble that Malmberg leads in performances of impeccable musicality and profound religiosity. The soloists are uniformly superb, with the standout being soprano Miah Persson's radiant "Piu Jesu" in Fauré's work. Organist Mattias Wager may be a bit too self-effacing for those who prefer their accompaniments to shock and awe, but he is always exactly where he's supposed to be doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing and who could ask for any more? While those who prefer more lively performances of the Requiems may prefer the big-boned Shaw recordings of the orchestral arrangements, those who prefer to listen on their knees in a darkened church will surely go for Malmberg's recordings, particularly in BIS' lush super audio sound.