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Gabriel FAURE (1845-1924)
Requiem, op.48 (1888) [35:02]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)

Chichester Psalms (1965) [17:41]
Aled Jones (treble), Stephen Roberts (baritone) John Birch (organ)
London Symphony Chorus
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Richard Hickox
Recorded at Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, July 1986
GRIFFIN GCCD 4044 [53:20]


This recording came out originally as the first disc of the RPOís own label back in 1987. It was recorded in the final months of Aled Jonesí career as a treble Ė he officially Ďretiredí after his voice broke, five months after the sessions, in December 1986. It was also among the first issues to bring Richard Hickoxís talents as a choral conductor before a wider audience.

Remastered for Griffin by Paul Arden-Taylor, it still sounds pretty good. The singing of the LSC has a freshness not always heard from large choral societies Ė though I suspect their numbers were somewhat reduced, at least for the Fauré. Stephen Roberts makes an ideal baritone soloist, not heavy, but with sufficient darkness in his tone for the solemn Libera me.

At bargain price, this is a desirable issue, especially as the coupling is an unusual one. But donít expect performances that come up to the very highest standards of whatís currently available. Aled Jones isnít really the right choice for the Pie Jesu of the Fauré, well though he sings it. And the sopranos of the LSC canít match the angelic purity of John Rutterís Cambridge Singers, or for that matter David Hillís very good Winchester choristers on the recent Virgin Classics issue.

Much the same can be applied to the Bernstein; this is an idiomatic, colourful performance, and Aled Jones is far more at home here, singing with great expressive beauty. But the bargain version of this piece to go for is the outstanding one on Naxos under Marin Alsop, which also boast much better solo singing from the adult soloists in the sublime closing pages of the work.

To sum up, a great bargain issue for anyone looking for this coupling; Hickox draws disciplined, stylish performances from his forces, and the re-mastered recording does them full justice.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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