Escolanía del Escorial

Fauré: Requiem

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Gabriel Fauré's Requiem is conventionally performed by two vocal soloists, a choir, and an orchestra, or in reduced scoring with chamber ensemble and organ; so it comes as a bit of a shock to hear it pared down further to this recording's forces of treble soloist, boy choir, and piano. Still, once the starkness of this rendition is accepted, the performance by the Escolanía del Escorial, led by Javier Martínez Carmena with Alberto Padrón at the keyboard, has some merit; anyone already acquainted with this beloved sacred music can appreciate the beauty of the singing, and perhaps imagine the rest: the "rehearsal quality" of the piano accompaniment is relatively easy to ignore if the recording is played at a medium volume. However, those who have not heard the Requiem in its full instrumentation ought to pass by this CD from Dies, since the sublime effects Fauré achieved in his writing for brass, strings, timpani, harp, and organ are indispensable to understanding the emotional depths and benign theology of this music and shouldn't be missed. A piano provides the basic harmonies and keeps the boys on pitch, but it can't replicate the luscious string sonorities of the Sanctus, the stern trumpets and horns in the Libera me, or the harp of In paradisum, some of the most distinctive and memorable sounds in the work. The performance of Cantique de Jean Racine by the boys and men of La Real Capilla Escurialense is provided as filler, this short motet is also accompanied on piano instead of the intended organ. This album will be of greatest interest to students of choral conducting and fans of boy choirs, and perhaps of limited value to other listeners.

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