Tenebrae / Nigel Short

Fauré: Requiem; Bach: Partita, Chorales & Ciaconna

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Even though Gabriel Fauré's Requiem in D minor receives top billing on this 2012 release from LSO Live, listeners may be excused if they find the performance of J.S. Bach's Partita in D minor with Chorales to be the most interesting part of the disc. Scholarship has revealed the Partita and its famous Ciaconna (Chaconne) to be connected to various funereal chorale melodies, which Bach wove into his music as a private tribute to his late first wife, Maria Barbara. To help illustrate this, Nigel Short and Tenebrae perform the chorales "Ach Herr, laß dein lieb Engelein," "Christ lag in Todesbanden," "Den Tod niemand swingen kunnt," and "Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden," between movements of the Partita and underscoring the Ciaconna where Gordan Nikolic's carefully phrased violin melody makes reference to the chorales. For musical sleuths, this is quite an exercise in detection, though the emotional impact of hearing the violin soaring and weaving through the choir's dirges is not to be underrated. The Bach certainly prepares the listener for the 1893 chamber version of Fauré's somber but soothing Requiem, in which the London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble accompanies Tenebrae with strength and beauty. While the performances are admirable for their undeniable power to move, the super audio sound of these live recordings is uneven and disconcerting, falling short of the label's usual high standards by being either too thin, as in the Bach, or too booming, as in the Fauré.

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