Duruflé, Fauré

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COMPOSERS: Durufle,Faure
LABELS: Decca Ovation
WORKS: Requiem
PERFORMER: Jonathan Bond, Robert King (treble), Benjamin Luxon, Christopher Keyte (baritone), Stephen Cleobury (organ); Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, Academy of St Martin in the Fields/George Guest
CATALOGUE NO: 466 418-2 ADD Reissue (1974, 1975)

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Durufle’s Requiem started life as a series of organ meditations on the texts of the Mass of the Dead which he later amplified into a full-blown setting for two soloists, chorus and orchestra. But he also produced a version with organ accompaniment, and it is that which Decca reissues in a somnolent performance from St John’s College, Cambridge. The acoustic suits the work, however, and equally the companion Fauré Requiem (spiritual ancestor of Duruflé’s piece), though again the reading is ponderous. Altogether more inspiriting is the new account by Cambridge Voices under Ian de Massini recorded in the church where Duruflé was organist from 1930 until his death in 1986. Here the vibrant choral tone combines with imaginative organ playing and fluid direction to produce a fervent interpretation. As well as Duruflé’s last composition – a brief unaccompanied setting of the Lord’s Prayer – three works by De Massini complete the disc, all written with skill and the first a homage to Duruflé’s memory incorporating some of his music. The full-scale orchestral setting of the Requiem is performed in a church in Toulouse whose acoustic muddies the water with so much more to fit into the sound-picture. But Michel Plasson’s direction is sensitive, the chorus excellent and the undemonstrative grandeur of the music comes across. As with the Herald disc, soloists are first-rate. Worthwhile makeweights here are all by Duruflé, whose own recording of the Requiem with the Lamoureux Orchestra remains of historic importance. George Hall