Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Henri TOMASI (1901-1974)
Requiem pour la paix (1945)
Fanfares liturgiques (1947)
Etre ou ne pas être (1963)
Marie-Paul Lavogez (sop)
Jacqueline Mayeur (mezzo)
Michel Pastor (ten)
Didier Henry (bar)
Trombone Massilia
Choeur Régional Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Choeur Départemental des Alpes-Maritimes
Orchestra Philharmonique de Marseille/Michel Piquemal
rec Marseilles 8-10 July 1996
MARCO POLO 8.225067 [61.52]
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Tomasi web-site

Henri Tomasi, trapped in a reputation as one of the finest conductors of pre-Occupation France, was tragically liberated from his slavery by the Nazi invasion. Cutting himself loose he first turned to sea voyages and then, as a novitiate, to the Monastery of Sainte-Baume near Marseilles. This Requiem, the Mass and a Symphonie in C, are all works of those 'retreat' years.

The idiom of the Requiem is pellucid, tonal, pointillistic, suffused in light, singable, touching - a truly lovely work touched off by the wellsprings of those who had died in the struggle for freedom - the heroes of the resistance, and all those who had died for France. It belongs to that select band of works that trace a lineage to the Fauré Requiem and can be counted in company with Paul Paray's St Joan Mass, the latter irresistibly recorded on Reference Recordings. The Requiem is meshed together by a number of recurrent gestures: a brusque summonsing from the brass (rather like Kenneth Alwyn's 633 Squadron), a supplicatory solo violin and a Ravelian swooning. The work was premiered in Paris in the year after the liberation and in the presence of General de Gaulle.

The Fanfares liturgiques is Holstian in mood with more than a hint of one of those Whitman dead marches especially in the last movement. This music has true nobility. Etre ou ne pas être is a much later work rather hoarsely summoning up brooding resentment.

The notes are very thorough and sympathetic. Full texts are printed. The recording is spectacular.

With the sole exception of the trumpet concerto, taken up by Wynton Marsalis, Tomasi has had scant attention even in his own country. I hope that there will be more CDs. We need a recording of the Symphonie du Tiers Monde (in its African colonial background it echoes the disquiet of works such as Joly Braga Santos's Fifth Symphony which is also troubled by the turbulence shaking a proud colonial nation) and of the violin concerto.

Rob Barnett

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