WORKS: Requiem; Cantique de Jean Racine; Tu es Petrus; Tantum ergo
PERFORMER: Chiyuki Okamura (soprano), David Wilson-Johnson (baritone), Paul Nancekievill (organ); Schleswig-Holstein Festival Chor Lübeck; Ensemble Orchestral de Paris/Rolf Beck
CATALOGUE NO: Hänssler 98.628
That Fauré’s provocatively understated setting of the Requiem exists in (at least) two versions is well understood these days. The full orchestral version from 1901, which for about 90 years was the only one known, is now, if anything, more rarely heard than Fauré’s leaner original thoughts. To some, the fact that Fauré’s publisher, Hamelle, encouraged the use of larger forces to assist the work’s success is reason enough to avoid it. However, there is no need to be sniffy about the 1901 version. Fauré wasn’t.
Nonetheless, new recordings of either version of the Requiem need to bring something special to make their mark in a crowded field. This live performance under Rolf Beck finds the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Chor Lübeck making some delicious sounds at times, ably supported by the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, but there is not much that sticks for long in the memory. Baritone David Wilson-Johnson is in typically fine voice in the Libera me, but Chiyuki Okamura sounds forced at times in the ‘Pie Jesu’. The inclusion of Cantique de Jean Racine and a couple of motets is welcome. Overall, though, this short disc simply lacks the presence of, for instance, Philippe Herreweghe’s insightful performances of either version, especially the one for full orchestra. Christopher Dingle