Requiem; Cantique de Jean Racine; Messe basse; Fugues in A minor & E minor; Motets
Sarah Yanovitch, Nola Richardson (soprano), Edmund Milly (bass), Grace Cloutier (harp); Yale Schola Cantorum/David Hill; Robert Bennesh (organ)
Hyperion CDA 68209
Another version of the Requiem? The instrumental accompaniment has been arranged here by David Hill for violin, cello, harp and organ. In principle, there is nothing to gainsay this, given that even the well-known version with full orchestra may not be by Fauré. In practice too, it works extremely well, with the two strings bringing out the subsidiary lines that were always a feature of his writing, while the harp adds just that touch of ethereality. The singing is splendid. The baritone soloist Edmund Milly has just the cantor-like voice Fauré specified, with no boom or bluster, and the top choral parts are clear and bell-like. The two soprano soloists display slightly more vibrato than their choral counterparts, but certainly not enough to cause dismay.
The motets are a treasure trove of elegant modulations, each in every way beautifully crafted with never a bar too many. Hill’s instrumentally expanded version of the Cantique de Jean Racine is equally effective – again highlighting how much Fauré owed to his essentially contrapuntal teaching at the École Niedermeyer. My only slight grumble is with the liner notes, which do not mention the edition of Jean-Michel Nectoux, who found the parts of the original version in the Madeleine archives, and which claim Fauré never wrote an opera.