Magazine article Gramophone

Faure

Magazine article Gramophone

Faure

Article excerpt

Faure

Requiem, Op 48 (arr Hill). Messe basse. Maria, mater gratiae. Op 47 No 2. Ave Maria--Op posth; Op 67 No 2. Ave verum, Op 65 No 1. Fugues, Op 84--No 3; No 6. Tantum ergo--Op 55; Op 65 No 2. Cantique de Jean Racine, Op 11

Yale Schola Cantorum / David Hill with Robert Bennesh org

Hyperion (F) CDA68209 (68' * DDD * T/t)

As if there weren't enough versions of the Faure Requiem around already, David Hill has made another, recorded here. Hill's scoring is for violin, cello, organ and harp, and while the simplistic booklet notes suggest the harp is there because its 'iconography also links it angelically to heaven', no serious justification is given for the inclusion of the violin against Faure's preference for an instrumental ensemble topped by violas. As a result, Hill's is a much lighter and thinner Requiem than usual; aspects highlighted by a recording which places the organ far back in the overall picture.

Whatever shortcomings there may be in Hill's arrangement, his Yale choristers effectively paper over the cracks with a sound which is so smooth and slickly polished that it verges on the featureless. The 'entirely human feeling' Faure put into his Requiem is all but suffocated under the thick veneer of this carefully manicured choral sound. This almost unreal level of choral perfection effectively robs the simple little Messe basse of its inherent charm and, as with the Requiem, Hill drives it along rather relentlessly.

All is not lost, however; and while there is a superb performance of the Cantique de Jean Racine--also in an arrangement by Hill, but one which works well--the real glories of the disc come with the handful of rarely heard choral miniatures which are, without exception, absolute gems. …

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