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Fauré: Requiem and other sacred music

The Cambridge Singers | City of London Sinfonia
John Rutter (conductor)

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John Rutter’s Gramophone Award-winning 1984 recording of Fauré’s Requiem, re-released in 2010. The first-ever performance on disc of the work in its intimate original version – famously re-discovered by Rutter in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris after a century of neglect – it remains one of the timeless jewels in the crown of the Collegium catalogue.

Hailed on release as ‘the Fauré Requiem of the future’ (Music Week), Rutter’s performance with the Cambridge Singers and members of the City of London Sinfonia has transformed the way in which we view one of the great works of European sacred music, and remains definitive.

An audio learning guide for Cantique de Jean Racine is available from ChoirGuides

Track list

  1. Requiem: Introït et Kyrie
  2. Requiem: Offertoire
  3. Requiem: Sanctus
  4. Requiem: Pie Jesu
  5. Requiem: Agnus Dei
  6. Requiem: Libera me
  7. Requiem: In paradisum
  8. Ave verum Corpus
  9. Tantum ergo
  10. Ave Maria
  11. Maria, Mater gratiae
  12. Cantique de Jean Racine
  13. Messe Basse: Kyrie eleison
  14. Messe Basse: Sanctus
  15. Messe Basse: Benedictus
  16. Messe Basse: Agnus Dei

“Rutter’s chorus is a fine one, immaculate of diction and pure of line; Stephen Varcoe’s light and unforced baritone could well be just what Fauré had in mind and Caroline Ashton’s absolute purity in her brief solo is most moving. The recording is excellent” Gramophone

“These works confirm that Fauré deserves to be known for more than just his Requiem … [this album] deserves a place in your collection” Cross Rhythms

“Gabriel Fauré originally wrote his Requiem for liturgical use and gave the work’s premiere in 1888. In 1893 he added two movements, the Offertoire and the Libera me. The Requiem received its first performance in the form in which it’s most familiar, scored for full orchestra, in 1900. John Rutter’s 1985 recording was the first to use the 1893 version, which was scored for strings, harp, timpani, horns, trumpets, and organ. This version is essentially a chamber work, and Rutter scales the chorus down in size to match the intimacy of the orchestration. The result is a more austere-sounding work, but one whose clarity and purity are revealed with fresh insight. Rutter’s performance is notable for its spare, clean linearity; it achieves plenty of feeling without the Romantic richness of the full orchestra. The Cambridge Singers, which he founded, and members of the City of London Sinfonia, perform with discipline, tone that is pure and luminous, and lyrical intensity. It’s an altogether radiant performance that should interest anyone who loves the Requiem. Also included is a lovely performance of Cantique de Jean Racine, in a version with the accompaniment arranged for strings and harp by Rutter. The CD is filled out with equally affecting readings of Fauré’s brief Messe basse for women’s voices and organ and several short anthems. The sound is just a little on the bright side, but it’s not entirely inappropriate for the chaste clarity of the choral sound.” AllMusic

“Fauré’s Requiem is routinely over-inflated by its interpreters, rendering it sanctimonious, portentous, or just plain tedious. But not here: John Rutter’s stripping of the orchestral score’s 1901 accretions (violins and woodwind specifically), returning to the smaller-scale ‘chamber’ version, radically alters the impression the work makes in performance, lightening textures and revealing the true delicacy and buoyance of Fauré’s original conception.” BBC Music Magazine

“This recording is a genuine classic which no one should be without.  Originally recorded in 1984 and 1988, it offers Rutter’s own lovingly prepared reconstruction of the 1893 original score of Faure’s much-loved Requiem.  It is a reading that has done much to strip away the layers of a century’s performance history of the composer’s later, more fully orchestrated version.  In Fauré’s original, the textures are open and fresh.  Rutter’s Cambridge Singers of the 1980s include some distinguished solo artists of more recent times (Mark Padmore and Gerald Finley to name but two!) and the group sings quite magnificently throughout.  The CD offers several rarities as fillers, as well as the Messe basse and that perennial favourite, the Cantique de Jean Racine, all in exemplary performances.  Throughout, Rutter reveals his complete empathy with this music.  With excellent soloists in the Requiem (Caroline Ashton and Stephen Varcoe) and a sweet-toned violin solo from Simon Standage, I wouldn’t hesitate to snap up this disc at any price.” Choir & Organ

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