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Fauré - Requiem; Franck - Organ Symphony CD

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Product details

  • Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe
  • Composer: César Franck, Gabriel Fauré
  • Audio CD (11 Mar 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B0000631AI
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 139,092 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By enthusiast TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Jun 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I am not sure why, but I was not very familiar with the Faure Requiem when I bought this. So I certainly can't offer an expert review or a comparison of versions: I can just tell you about my experience of owning this record. The Faure is indeed a lovely and quietly powerful work and this version is certainly attractive and loving and altogether cherishable. The soloists are light and pure toned and the chorus are excelent. The orchestra plays beautifully, too. Apparently Herreweghe made an earlier recording of an earlier version of the work - an account that has been very well thought of but is no longer available - but this time he uses the 1901 version for full orchestra. I am greatly enjoying this performance.

But the real reason I am hazarding a review is because of the very generous "fill-up" - the Franck Symphony in D Minor. It is not even mentioned on the front of the cover that the record includes this, but it is much more than a mere fill-up. The Franck Symphony does not enjoy the popularity that it once did but Herreweghe's performance should do much to bring it back to our attention.

I've always tended towards the faster and more dramatic accounts of the work rather than the more stodgy (or should I say "architectural"?) accounts. So, for, me the big and thrilling Monteux recording (available in excellent sound) has ruled the roost: it is a magnificent and miraculous performance. But Herreweghe brings us something new: an original intrument version. If you think that means making it sound more classical or baroque, think again: Herreweghe is on no doubt that this is a great romantic symphony and is scrupulous in interpretting it as one. But it does mean that textures are somewhat clearer than they have sometimes been so that more detail can be heard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Andersen on 3 Mar 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have three recordings of Fauré's requiem. This is technically the best - recording as well as the unbelievable sound of the choir. The one dearest to my heart though is an elder recording conducted by John Rutter - very thin and airy sound - almost like you would imagine angels to sound.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Authentic death and resurrection 11 Jun 2002
By MartinP - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Making fun of the `authenticist' movement is still easy enough if you feel the need to, though performance standards are by now so high and so far removed from the struggling off-key trumpets and underpowered violins of the pioneering years that the most violent criticisms have died down long since. Still, who was it who wondered sarcastically how long it would be before we would have to put up with authentic Mahler and Stravinsky? Well, after Norrington tackling Brahms, Herreweghe has advanced as far as Fauré, so we should be getting there any time now! And I'll be the first to investigate the results. Actually I already heard Herreweghe conduct an authentically informed Bruckner 7th, which was a revelation to say the least. Every time I encounter another major 19th century masterpiece in `period performance', I get that feeling of looking up for the first time at the cleaned-up Sistine Chapel frescoes, stunningly bright and clear, after having been deluded for years into believing that all those dark umbers (and loincloths!) actually came from Michelangelo's palette.
I got that feeling over and over again while listening to this amazing recording. There is a clarity here, a transparency and architectural poise that is unmatched in any recording I know of the Requiem. The choir deserves at least as much of the credit as the orchestra, the `authentic-ness' of its singing recognisable in the very clear and sharp attack, perfect intonation and rhythmic precision. Yet there is all the power you could wish for as well, and no lack of feeling at all (nor in the orchestra, I should add). The difference is that it never keels over into the sentimental, as traditional performances too easily do.
Be warned though that another authenticist trait of this recording is the use of French pronunciation of the Latin text, which is what Fauré would have imagined. So you get `Zjésü' instead of `Jesou', and you will see a `lüx perpétüa' illuminating the dead rather than the more familiair `loux perpertoua'. It is somewhat unsettling at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. There are a few drawbacks, inevitably, but they are minor ones. I wasn't totally convinced by the contribution of soprano Johanette Zomer (which is, her being Dutch like myself, a very unchauvinistic observation): to my ears she sounds a bit strained and tense in the Pie Jesu, with a very quick vibrato towards the end of each phrase that struck me as slightly mannered. Her performance is by no means unfeeling though, and her intonation is impeccable. Furthermore, I wonder why Herreweghe opted for a harmonium instead of an organ. Fauré approved the use of a large harmonium in case an organ wasn't available, but I would guess that when planning a recording it shouldn't be too hard to find a location that does have an organ. Apparently Herreweghe prefers the harmonium sound; if that is so, I beg to differ. There is something rickety about these rattling keys, that disturb the paradisal peace with weird percussive accents (if there are harmoniums in Heaven, which I hope not, they're surely well-oiled?). The wheezy, somewhat asthmatic sound has a comical effect at times (which I presume was not intended), again most disturbingly in the In Paradisum, which is made to sound almost frivolous.
But none of this makes this recording less worthwhile, and then there is the fill-up, which is certainly very generous: Franck's Symphony in D. If ever there was a piece of music that could do with some serious dusting, it is this. Under Herreweghe it finally sounds like something else than a lesser work by a very young Bruckner. I'm almost tempted to call it light-footed, not a word that springs to mind easily with Franck, and it definitely is very energetic and uplifting - though the Finale remains rather `much of a muchness'. The Symphony makes a surprisingly apt counterpart to the Requiem, belonging audibly to the same soundworld. The sombre opening for a moment tricks you into believing that Fauré has just thought up a new movement, plunging you back, as it were, into the darker regions of the Requiem. And then the clouds slowly lift and we are carried along towards the triumphant final bars of the Finale, so that it feels like getting the resurrection as a bonus after the funeral!
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A Superb Interpretation 21 Mar 2005
By Tom - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I like some classical music, though I am neither a musician nor am I very knowledgable about serious music criticism. I have always admired Faure's "Requiem" because of its sheer beauty though, and recently, more or less on a whim, I have listened to about a dozen different recordings of this work with as much care as I can muster, and have come up with some opinions about the many versions of the Requiem currently available.

While Herreweghe also has an earlier "chamber" version of the Requiem, which is also excellent, I would rate this "orchestral" version as the finest interpretation of the Requiem currently available on CD. I think so because of a)the superb recording (2002), b) the French choir; c) the lovely touches that this version possesses; for instance, the use of a harmonium rather than an organ for accompaniment; and d)the unknown but extremely effective soloists.

The sound is phenomenal, nearly beyond belief. Many fine recordings of the Requiem provide a sort of gorgeous sonic sludge that is pleasing to the ear, while providing few of the many subtle nuances of the score. This version finds the perfect balance between homogeniety and detail.

As well, many of the excellent English choir versions of the piece manage to communicate the delicacy of the piece without ever hinting at the Requiem's inherent sensuality. In this regard, Herreweghe finds the perfect balance between heaven and earth, between reverence and warmth.

As a general rule, I am of the opinion that the more famous the soloists, the less effective they are singing Faure's haunting and subtle melodies. Big names have a tendency to show off their voices or have a habit of wallowing in vibrato, calling more attention to themselves than to the music. Both soloists here provide beautiful vibrato-free singing that complements the ethereal nature of the piece.

While most critics consider the "chamber" version of the piece as the more legitimate and compelling of the two versions available on CD, this "orchestral" version by no means overpowers the singing. As a veteran of one "chamber" version already, Herreweghe is not only very familiar with the dynamics of the piece but he is also sensitive to the considerable demands that it makes on orchestral, choir and soloists. Nothing here is exaggerated or overblown. All of the elements of this interpretation contribute discretely to the beauty of the score. Yet, the interpretation is fresh enough that there is no mistaking its individuality or originality.

A lot of other worthy versions remain tied for second best. Most of these versions (by Best, Marlow, Rutter, Willcocks, and Dutoit) were recorded in the late eighties or very early nineties (or earlier still in the case of Willcocks), and simply can't compete with the recorded sound of Herreweghe's orchestral version. Best's interpretation is luscious and consistently excellent throughout; Marlow's version is the most intimate, and very persuasive as a result; Rutter's interpretation possesses an excellent choir and soloists, and Willcocks' version possesses a heavenly "Pie Jesu" by a boy soprano but is otherwise a tad too British sounding for its own good. Herreweghe's "chamber" version is the equal of any of these recordings, and more idiomatically French, to boot. And for a very atmospheric and serious "orchestral" alternative, one might consider Dutoit with the Montreal Symphony, as well.

But if you only plan to own one version, you should listen to Herreweghe's "orchestral" Requiem before making your decision.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
sublime 27 Jun 2005
By whiterabbit - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Faure's Requiem is one my favorite requiems because of its note of optimism and beauty. This composition suggests that death is not a tragedy as much as a journey into beauty and life eternal. This has resulted in a requiem that is less dark than most (case in point, Mozart's brilliant but desperate requiem). Its note of peacefulness and unquencheable joy carries throughout the entire piece. Herreweghe's rendition is without doubt the most spectacular and beautiful rendering of this wonderful requiem that I have heard yet. The voices are pristine, capturing well a sense of the sublime, and the whole thing is a pleasure to listen to. I have listened to it countless times now and it still gives me chills, and still seems flawless to me. A must have for any classical music lover!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
wow, my mind, it is blown ... 3 Mar 2009
By Richard W. Martin - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
i/ve had many versions of the requiem over the years, but this one i did not expect. not being a christian (or any other religion for that matter), i/ve long been interested in requiems, and faure/s is the only one i know that doesn/t *insult* the dead w/ visions of the christian hellfire, but actually *is* a request for peace. and this performance is the most crystal i/ve ever heard. (haven/t got to the franck yet - played the requiem 3 times. after the first, ordered herreweghe/s version of the original orchestration). this is a thing of beauty. and no, the harmonium doesn/t bother me. an organ would not fit the intimate nature of this performance.

and, for the amazon reviewer who used the word 'syrupiness' to describe the music, and said that the 'tempi are on the quick side' - what ? are we listening to the same recording ? part of the point of faure/s requiem is that, short of bernstein, you can hardly *make* this music syrupy. and if anything, i thought the tempi refreshingly *slow*.

anyway, *the* faure requiem to have.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Well played, well directed, and well recorded! 3 Mar 2003
By Matthew J. Rygelski - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Although my music tastes focus more on chamber classical, this choral style has such strength that it projects from each listening experience, it has become part of my favorite routine. The quality of this recording is pristine, so you are not distracted by anything other than your own emotions as the music and vocalists pull you inside their world through to see the glory and fragility of everything around you. It is difficult to put into words the experience as you are wrapped with so many emotions, but you will receive new perspective on everything significant and otherwise.
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