André Cluytens

Fauré: Requiem; Debussy: Images

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André Cluytens was one of the acknowledged master French conductors of the middle years of the 20th century, and his 1963 recording of Debussy's Images and his 1962 recording of Fauré's Requiem were justly hailed in their time as great performances. With the excellent Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in both pieces, and the superb soprano Victoria de los Angeles and superlative baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the Requiem, Cluytens turns in sensitive accounts; Images is stylish and colorful with an especially evocative "Les parfums de la nuit," and the Requiem is pure and deeply felt, with a particularly lovely Pie Jesu. Both performances have been issued again and again by EMI, first on LP and then on CD. The advantage of this release is that it includes both works for the first time on one disc, though the sonic ambience of the two pieces is so totally different that listening to them sequentially is not advisable. The sound is typical for French EMI at the time: lush and warm, but a bit heavy and a tad thick. These are recordings that should appeal to everyone who loves these works.

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