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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Elly Ameling (soprano)
Bernard Kruysen (baritone)
Netherlands Radio Chorus
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Jean Fournet
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Jean Fournet
Pelléas et Mélisande
Jill Gomez (soprano)
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/David Zinman
Rec March 1975, Rotterdam (Requiem & Pavane); November 1979, Rotterdam (Pelléas)
PHILIPS 464 701 2 [60.15]
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This nicely presented disc offers a thoughtfully planned Fauré programme, and brings the beautiful Pelléas et Mélisande music before a wider public, alongside the more popular Requiem and Pavane. In fact the performance (and recording too) of Pelléas is more successful than those of the other items. David Zinman chooses appropriate tempi to allow the essential sensitivity of the elusive subject of forbidden love to be felt through some of Fauré's most beautiful music. And full marks to the Rotterdam orchestra, who play quite wonderfully in music which does not exactly encourage us to acknowledge their virtuosity. Jill Gomez is on top form, too, in Mélisande's song.

The Pavane is suitably phrased and balanced by Fournet, and the recording is more than adequate. However, in the Requiem some doubts set in. The solo voices, for example, are placed very far forward in the perspective, while the orchestral lines, though not completely lost, do not always make their point. The best aspect of the performance is the contribution of the chorus, always clear in focus and sensitive in phrasing.

There is a perceptive accompanying essay by Max Harrison, detailing some aspects of the interesting history surrounding the Requiem. Hidden away in the text of this is the fact that the version employed here is the 'larger orchestra' version of 1901. This is the most common version among today's performances, though it is by no means the only one to be featured in the catalogue of recordings.

Terry Barfoot

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