Cherubini: Requiem in C minor; Kurpiński: Te Deum
Collegium Vocale 1704; Collegium 1704/Václav Luks
Frederick Chopin Institute NIFCCD 073 69:00 mins
Here’s a very fine period instrument recording of Cherubini’s Requiem. Conductor Václav Luks adopts a searching approach to the opening Kyrie, allowing the bassoons and violas to gnarl effectively through the sepulchral instrumental textures. The Dies Irae is raw and exciting, with sizzling strings and the drama of blaring brass and gong at the outset. The choir – at 20 members, chamber-sized – is supercharged, but has plenty of discipline too, with punchy attack and telling use of dynamic contouring in the Lacrimosa. Luks and his singers manage the work’s extended pianissimo end with easeful dignity, and overall their alert, incisive interpretation makes rival recordings seem rather sleepy.
The well-balanced live recording comes from a concert contextualising Chopin’s place in European music, which explains the presence of Karol Kurpiński’s virtually unknown Te Deum as coupling. Kurpiński was a major figure in early 19th-century Polish music, and conducted when Chopin premiered his Second Piano Concerto in 1830. The Te Deum is nearly half an hour long, and zips into life with scampering, Mozartian string writing, buffeted by heavier volleys in the brass and timpani. Eight members of the excellent choir step forward in a variety of solo combinations, and the Dignare, Domine movement is a sweetly sinuous duet between soprano Simona Šaturová and first violinist Helena Zemanová. Conductor Luks again secures bracingly communicative results, with audience applause retained for both pieces.