WORKS: Duruflé: Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, Op. 10; Requiem, Op. 9 & Grunenwald; Tu es Petrus; Psalm 129 (De Profundis)
PERFORMER: Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Robert Cohen (cello); Vasari Singers/Jeremy Backhouse; Jeremy Filsell (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 163
For the most part the Vasari Singers perform with feeling, luminous tone and accuracy.
Just occasionally the latter slips (in the sopranos towards the end of the ‘Kyrie’, for example), and noticeably so, Duruflé’s carefully layered textures being unforgiving in this regard. Jeremy Filsell gives a fluent account of the organ part, my only query being about his introduction of reeds in the ‘Domine Jesu’ seven bars earlier than specified by the composer. Sarah Connolly sings the ‘Pie Jesu’ gloriously.
Thus far, a largely acceptable performance. Sadly, though, Christopher Maltman is not merely out of tune on his ‘Tremens factus sum’ but is palpably singing wrong notes, ‘timeo’ for example ending on an F sharp instead of a G; also his voice has developed a really intrusive beat.
No question then that the recording by The Gents is preferable, the tiniest of choral bubbles at the end of the ‘Agnus Dei’ being the only blemish. If I had anything good to say about Grunenwald’s De profundis, I would. As it is, I’ll grumble about the translation of Duruflé’s ‘Ubi caritas’: the verbs ‘exultemus’ etc are not statements but exhortations, and I have a nasty feeling that ‘diligently’ is offered as a translation of ‘diligamus’.
At least the Vasari Singers sing the motets with devotion. Roger Nichols