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Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Requiem, Op 48 (1891) [33.59] (arr. M. Wager)
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)

Requiem, Op 9 (1947) [39.01]
Swedish Radio choir/Fredrik Malmberg
Miah Persson (sop); Malena Ernman, (mezzo); Olle Persson, (bar); Mattias Wager, (organ)
rec. DSD, Hedvig Eleonoro Church, Stockholm, Sweden, April 2004.
Hybrid SACD. CD tracks, 2.0 stereo. SACD tracks 2.0 stereo and 5.0 surround.
Notes in English, Deutsch, Français. Latin texts with English translations. Photos of artists.
BIS SACD-1206 [73.54]

Comparison Recordings:
Fauré: John Rutter Collegium COLCD 109
Fauré: Fischer-Dieskau, de los Angeles, OSCC, Cluytens GROTC CDM 5 66894 2 UK; 7243 5 66894 2 Europe; Angel 5 66946 2 USA. review

The Fauré Requiem is a problematic work in that the composer left it in several versions, none of which is considered perfectly satisfactory. To this day performers assemble and re-orchestrate their own versions from the various manuscripts.

In the above-mentioned recording of the John Rutter full orchestra score he takes his idea of the best bits from all of Faure's manuscripts to provide as complete an experience of the music as possible and has been to date my favorite version. But one of the charms of the music is its lightness and transparency, giving the text a dreamy sense of poignancy, sadness and intimacy. Are you ready for this new version, a chamber motet for small vocal ensemble and soloists accompanied by organ?

The Duruflé Requiem is an at once appealing work, strikingly original, tonal but modern in sound, endlessly fascinating. The "Sanctus* is tremendously exciting, the "Paradisum" gorgeously other-worldly. This chamber-sized performance, apparently arranged by the composer, for small choir and organ stresses the intimacy and integrity of the work and is quite successful.

However the real star of this recording is baritone Olle Persson who is described in the notes as "...one of Sweden’s most sought-after singers." Like many of his voice range he has apparently studied the technique of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and unlike many baritones, he has been able to match many of the German baritone’s best qualities while avoiding most of the unfortunate mannerisms which Fischer-Dieskau exhibited in his later work. You will find Persson’s performance here entirely comparable to Fischer-Dieskau’s and you may prefer him. I don’t know if it is fair to say that this recording is a showcase for Persson but he is the best thing in it. The chorus is very accomplished and the organ accompaniment is above all discreet, supporting the singers without drawing attention to itself. The other soloists are very fine, but not in the same rank as Persson. You may, as I do, prefer a boy soprano in the "Pie Jesu" of the Fauré work, although adult Ms. Miah Persson sings it beautifully here. It is not noted whether she is related to Olle Persson or not; the name is a common one in Sweden.

Even on the SACD tracks there is an odd slight rawness to the sound of the tenors suggesting some attempt at acoustic enhancement. Surround perspective is very subtle and center-front weighted.

*This movement was for a long time my own personal choice for a "Pluto" movement to Holst’s The Planets; I have played it that way for friends many times and they generally applaud my choice. But for this use you need the full orchestral version with large symphonic choir of which there are a number of fine recordings. I have also come to enjoy and greatly admire Colin Matthews’ "Pluto."

Paul Shoemaker


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