Fauré; Mozart

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Fauré; Mozart
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré; Mozart
WORKS: Fauré: Requiem; Mozart: Vesperae solennes de Confessore; Ave verum Corpus
PERFORMER: Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Ruth Massey (mezzo-soprano), Mark Dobell (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone); The Sixteen; Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Harry Christophers


The reason for the rather strange bedfellows for the Fauré Requiem here – Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, K339, and his Ave verum corpus – is that the recording was made live during the Barbican’s 2007 Mostly Mozart season. While not the most obvious companions on disc one could imagine, they don’t jar. What is considerably less successful than the programme, however, is the sound, which is on the thick side and has the orchestra hidden behind the choir.That’s a shame, because the playing of the Academy of St Martin’s is skilled and alert, while The Sixteen (actually 30-strong on this occasion) produce some finely gradated tone, especially in the Fauré. The soloists, too, form a well‑balanced team, with Roderick Williams assured and expressive in his major solo in the Fauré, and Elin Manahan Thomas true in intonation and charming in gesture in ‘Laudate Dominum’ in the Vespers. In the Requiem, Christophers shapes the orchestral contours with finesse, and the music moves nicely, though without the inevitability of the best performances. The Ave verum, conversely, seems inert. But this is by no means a classic account of the much-recorded Fauré. If pushed, I’d still go with David Willcocks and his Cambridge choir, currently coupled with Philip Ledger’s account of Duruflé’s Requiem.


George Hall