In opposition to the nineteenth century's taste for grand, operatic requiems as exemplified by the works of Berlioz and Verdi, Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé both sought to make their requiems more appropriate for liturgical use and to avoid drama as much as possible. Neither setting makes use of the terrifying Dies Irae, and references to the Apocalypse are brief. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the Requiem's peaceful texts, since eternal rest is uppermost in both composers' conceptions. Considering that the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, consists of only 30 voices, Stephen Cleobury wisely chose the pared-down versions of both requiems for this recording. The reduced orchestration of the Duruflé work may seem thin in comparison to the more frequently heard version for full orchestra, but the balance achieved with the small choir is ample compensation. Fauré's Requiem is presented here in the 1893 version, which lacks the woodwinds and additional brass of the 1900 edition. However, they are not missed, since their reinforcement is unnecessary for the small scale of this performance. Recorded in 1988 in the chapel at King's College, the soloists and choir are clearly audible, and the English Chamber Orchestra maintains steady, if somewhat subdued, support.
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