WORKS: Requiem; Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens; Scherzo, Op. 2; Notre Père; Prélude et fugue sur le nom d’ALAIN
PERFORMER: Béatrice Uria-Monzon (mezzo-soprano), Didier Henry (baritone), Eric Lebrun (organ), Marc Vieillefon (violin), François Poly (cello), Ensemble Vocal Michel Piquemal; Orchestre de la Cité/ Michel Piquemal
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553196/8.553197 DDD
Naxos’s excursion into Duruflé is to be welcomed: both the choral singing and the recordings here are notches above the Poulenc on Naxos I reviewed last month.
The Requiem is so widely performed it would be in danger of being done to death, were it not the kind of piece one can scarcely ever have too much of. This is an accomplished performance, never overlarded, with two convincing soloists. The lower voices’ sense of line is a bit stolid, but not damagingly so. Near the end the sound rather fuzzes over, and a hint of mike reverberation also affects the Pie Jesu on my copy. But the rest, including the lovely Four Motets, is beautifully intoned and tastefully captured.
The male voice Messe ‘Cum Jubilo’ is less successful: both tenors and basses can seem stretched, and even shout at times; but there is a nice tragic tinge to the Benedictus’s baritone solo, and the organ preface to the Agnus Dei is positively uplifting. Indeed, it’s Eric Lebrun’s vital, sensitive playing (on a Cavaillé-Coll organ) that puts the seal on both discs, whether in Duruflé’s heartfelt tribute to Jehan Alain, or the skilfully registered Suite for Organ. Enough to cast aside any reservations. Roderic Dunnett