Accentus / Laurence Equilbey

Fauré: Requiem

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The choral and instrumental parts for Gabriel Fauré's 1893 version of the Requiem, Op. 48, were discovered in 1969, and a score was assembled from them and published in 1994. Since then, this edition has been finding admirers, such as Laurence Equilbey and her hand-picked choir Accentus, who perform the Requiem with members of the Orchestre National de France on this 2008 Naïve release. The impact of the work is still quite strong and imposing in this chamber version, even when compared with performances of the full orchestral score of 1901, and it helps that the recording is full, deep, and vibrant, so textures are substantial and tone colors are rich, without giving the slightest impression that any forces are lacking. The choir of roughly 30 voices is as full as it needs to be, since Fauré's intimate choral writing is translucent and best suited to a group around this size, and though it is best known as an a cappella ensemble, Accentus seems quite comfortable surrounded by the small body of strings, brass, timpani, harp, and organ. Soprano Sandrine Piau and baritone Stéphane Degout are the featured vocal soloists, and their singing is appropriately subdued, reverent, and free of affectation. Also featured is violinist Luc Héry, whose sweetly decorous solo in the Sanctus is one of the high points of the performance. The increasingly popular choice of the soaring Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11, as filler is made here, and though this lyrical piece is much less compelling than the Requiem, Equilbey and her musicians -- augmented with woodwinds and more strings -- give it a polished presentation, and it closes out the album with a warm, radiant glow. Highly recommended.

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