Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem is a bit of a hybrid, sitting as it does rather splendidly between the French Romantic and more traditional sacred music genres, and its many recordings give you a choice between the original orchestral setting and those for organ alone. Either way it is a totally charming and captivating work, satisfying on both spiritual and temporal levels.
Englishman David Hill, former chief conductor of the BBC Singers and renowned for his work with Winchester and Westminster Cathedral choirs, brings an intimate and stripped back arrangement to this first recording on the Hyperion label by the Yale Schola Cantorum. The organ part is fleshed out by harp and just eight string players – less lush than a full orchestra but a transparent accompaniment to the excellent choir. Soloists – and they are all very good – are drawn from the choir’s ranks. Organist Robert Bennesh is featured in a couple of solos, a reminder that Fauré studied with both organist-composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Charles-Marie Widor.
The other works on this album include the short Messe Basse and the remarkable student piece, Cantique de Jean Racine, which Fauré composed as a graduation piece when he was 20. This disc is a real charmer, beautifully recorded and produced, and with the feeling that the listener is sitting in an intimate space with the musicians.