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4.7 out of 5 stars36
4.7 out of 5 stars
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This disc, first issued in 1984, focusses on a recording of the second of three versions Faure made of his Requiem. The first did not include two of the movements and was written for a smaller orchestra without violins, horns or trumpets. The second version from 1893 and recorded here incorporated these extra instruments in a limited but telling way and also included the Offertoire and Libera Me missing from the first version. The third, and most often performed version was for full orchestra and larger choir.

The performance here uses the small orchestra as required by Faure and this is matched by a small choir of very great purity of tone. The horns have a small but vital role in the climax to the Libera me. This is far more effective than in many more opulent versions simply because of the contrast created between so little and then relatively so much. The important treble solo in the Pie Jesu is taken by solo soprano Caroline Ashton who sings with such a clarity that it is very hard to imagine that she is not a treble of great tonal quality and surety. The baritone soloist, Stephen Varcoe, sings his solo well.

The Cantique de Jean Racine is an early work of Faure written when he was just 20 winning him first prize in a competition. It has justifiably remained popular ever since. The remaining works on the disc are of similar quality but it will be for the Requiem that this disc is chosen.

I would suggest that, like John Rutter believes, this is the finest of the three settings created by Faure. As such it has strong claims on collectors and this is one of the finest performances of that setting made. The recording portrays its ethereal quality perfectly. A sublime disc in every way.
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I first heard this recording when it first appeared in 1984. It was a pioneering account because it was the first recording of the 1893 chamber orchestra edition which John Rutter had rediscovered in the Biblioteque Nationale in Paris.

The version of the Requiem that most people had hitherto heard was the full orchestral version produced in 1900, that was probably undertaken by Jean Roger-Ducasse, one of Faure's pupils. This final version had 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 3 trombones and a full complement of violins, which were not in the 1893 version on this recording. Instead of massed violins, there is a solitary violin in the 1893 orchestration.

The effect of listening to this version is a bit like listening to Handel's Messiah on original instruments. There is not the same bassiness of sound or portentous weight but something much more airy and intimate, just listen to the soaring solo violin passage in the Sanctus played an octave higher than in the usual version. There is weightiness in the Libera Me section and gorgeous horn sonorities in the Agnus Dei. It was so relevatory that Gramophone Magazine made it a record of the year when it first came out.

28 years on, how does it stand up? I have enjoyed hearing this recording again but on reflection, I do find it sounds rather too 'English' in presentation and I longed to hear some more bite. I think this is a very correct, very musical performance but I do want to hear more engagement with the material. The soprano soloist Caroline Ashton sounds sweetly choirboyish and the baritone, Stephen Varcoe's voice is a little grey. However, I think it was a very worthwhile venture and I am sure that there are other recordings of this version of the Requiem that have been recorded.
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on 27 December 2011
At last after several tries, I've found a recording of this wonderful work by Faure which does justice to my first introduction to it. Excellent for all the right reasons. The Cambridge Singers are in tune with the mood here, and the other pieces (also Faure) complete the CD in compatible manner.
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on 30 October 2010
I bought this CD on the strength of the recent BBC Magazine recommendation. I am very pleased that I did. This is a beautiful recording of a wonderful piece of music. John Rutter's presence is an added bonus. Highly recommended.
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on 8 November 2012
Fauré's Requiem always moves the listener. Cambridge Singers with John Rutter always bring a tonality that takes the listener right inside the music, a profoundly spiritual experience.
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on 10 October 2012
Faure Requiem and other items,

This CD was excellent value and a CD I always wanted, having sung it with a local choir several times. One of my favourite Requiems and I think a lot of other's favourite as well. If not heard before it is well worth listening to.
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on 24 February 2013
Absolutely beautiful music played fabulously. This takes you up and into a spiritual realm and soothes and calms and allows you to release emotions safely. Very moving.
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on 14 September 2015
I put off buying this particular performance for years - the work is a great favourite.and I have had several recordings of it. Finally I capitulated and I have to say it is a Classic performance which could hardly be improved upon.
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on 17 May 2013
Heavenly music, heavenly performed! Need one say more? A bargain!
I would recommend this CD to anyone who likes choral music.
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on 3 March 2014
This is the chamber version of the well-known Faure Requiem and in this form the work has a purity and poignancy that is incomparably beautiful. I now find the more familiar full orchestral version somewhat overblown by comparison. This is music I have given on two occasions to bereaved friends, and both found it almost uniquely consoling. The other works on the disc, especially the sublime Cantique de Jean Racine, are equally captivating.
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