Cherubini: Requiem in C minor; In paradisum; Marche funèbre

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COMPOSERS: Cherubini
LABELS: Opus
WORKS: Requiem in C minor; In paradisum; Marche funèbre
PERFORMER: Chorus Musicus Köln, Das Neue Orchester/Christoph Spering
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-116 DDD
Cherubini held sway in Paris for several decades, spinning an income from revolution and restoration alike. Quite apart from his broader influence on Beethoven, his style of large-scale mass composition dominated most of the 19th century, and influenced not only Gounod and (for all his protests) Berlioz, but the brassy Requiem of his fellow countryman Verdi as well. This is not so much a memorable as a worthy performance of a work dedicated to Louis XVI’s memory and first heard at the Cathedral of Saint-Denis in 1716. The period instrument sound is very well caught, but the chorus, for all its reliance on ‘period’ pronunciation, is inclined to sound woolly. Sections often start well but lose sustaining power as they unfold. Yet the main rival, Muti’s grandiose EMI set with the Philharmonia Chorus, given the huge forces involved, also tends to be unfocused; in that set, the late D minor Requiem for male voices, the earliest recorded, comes over best. Still, Muti’s recording of the present work is impressive despite this, and if you like your Requiems to be à la Verdi, you should stick with him on EMI. The best moments on this more intimate Cologne recording – mellower in places thanks to the adjusted pitch (generally a semitone lower) – are agreeable, and it includes two ‘extras’ (Marche funèbre and In paradisum) which are arguably the best bits on the disc. Roderic Dunnett

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