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Faure: Requiem; Bernstein: Chichester Psalms

Release Date: 09/28/2004 
Label:  Griffin   Catalog #: 4044   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gabriel FauréLeonard Bernstein
Performer:  Stephen [Bass-Baritone Vocals] RobertsAled JonesJohn Birch
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This reissue of performances from a 1986 release on RPO is arguably the finest among a large group of full-orchestra renditions of Fauré's Requiem. The full-bodied orchestration is effectively captured, giving the added violins a satiny sheen and, especially in this re-mastering, letting us really feel the presence of the horns, trumpets, and trombones. Even though the choir is large, it's very aware of how to sing clearly and articulately in a big hall, and the engineers do all the right things to complement the choir's efforts. Conductor Richard Hickox deftly manages his forces with reasonable tempos and careful attention to the expressive details that celebrate this version's concert-hall power while preserving as much as possible Read more of Fauré's original chamber-sized, church-ambience concept (in the Pie Jesu, for example). Of course, treble Aled Jones was a truly sensational, genuinely gifted singer, the kind that comes along once in a generation, and many listeners will own this recording by virtue of his presence--and who could blame them? His Pie Jesu is one of the all-time best.

Bernstein's Chichester Psalms also have been done zillions of times, but you'd be hard pressed to find better, more involving, more dynamic renditions than here--and this recording has the benefit of the contribution of organist John Birch, who led the British premiere of this work in 1965.

There is one significant flaw in the packaging of this disc--and having reviewed countless recordings of Fauré's very popular work, I can say that it's a common yet unnecessary problem: Nowhere is it unambiguously stated which edition or which of the three versions of the Requiem is used for the performances at hand. Why is it so difficult to simply mention this information, clearly, up-front? When a work has multiple incarnations or editions, it's important for prospective buyers to know what they're getting--and some of us are actually savvy enough to be aware of these differences and want to know what we're buying. How hard would it be to add a line or parenthetical disclosure in the title and track list information? This matter aside, if you prefer the big-scale Fauré Requiem to the composer's original, chamber-sized realization, then you won't go wrong here, especially with this excellent choir and Aled Jones' unforgettable Pie Jesu.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Requiem, Op. 48 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Stephen [Bass-Baritone Vocals] Roberts (), Aled Jones (Treble), John Birch (Organ)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1890; France 
Date of Recording: 07/1986 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 35 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Aled Jones (Treble), John Birch (Organ)
Conductor:  Richard Hickox
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1986 
Venue:  Henry Wood Hall, London, England 
Length: 17 Minutes 8 Secs. 

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