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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This recording by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, is by far the best recording of this work available, and for various reasons.
1) The original orchestration of the Requiem, with full sections of Violas Cellos and Basses, but with only 1 solo violin; making the strings maintain an extra dark sound that is really invegorating.
2) The practically perfect performance of the Montiverdi Choir - arguably one of THE finest choirs in the world. Perfect balance, blend in all senses of the work.
3) Magnificent soloists capturing the very essence of what Faure was trying to accomplish - Notably the performance of Cathrine Bott in the Pie Jesu. Sweet, angelic, with NOT A LOT OF VIBRATO - which for some sopranos it is almost insulting for them to tone down the vibrato, as if to interfear with their virtuosity... Bott sings this with extreme delicacy, and in perfect context with the rest of the work, encapsulating the Requiem as it was ment to be.
These 3 qualities in the same recording is first of all extremely rare, and secondly it brings forth Faure in a completely new context.
This is truely a magnificent recording of Faure's Requiem, with all the velvety textures presented as smooth as milk choclate! A true model to our artform.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I don't think I've ever owned any piece of music quite so beautiful as the ones included on this cd... Gardiner's expertise and control keeps the nuances of this music just at the point where it nearly breaks your heart. Quite a large volume range on this one -- adds to the natural beauty of the music. Sometimes a soft breeze, other times a windstorm. Marvelous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is an exquisite performance of Fauré's great Requiem and it is one of my favourite recordings by Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique - even though their numbers are low in this recording. Gardiner uses the original chamber version of the work by the composer. The Monteverdi Choir is very good, as always, and it is nice to hear countertenors in the choir in this work. Childrens voices augment the Monteverdi Choir.

Catherine Bott sings with great feeling and purity. Listen to her Pie Jesu and you will buy this recording. Gilles Cachemaille is very good French baritone and I always enjoy his contributions to recordings.

Along with the Gardiner / Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique recordings of the Requiems of Verdi and Brahms, this is a fine recording to own. You'll probably never need to consider another recording after you've heard this one. Lovers of HIP will be enthralled and those who aren't normally attracted to that approach will be very pleasantly surprised.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
'GARDINER'S REQUIEM: TRES UNIQUE, BUT 'HIS' FRENCH ART SONGS: C'EST MAGNIFIQUE!!
How ingenious of John Eliot Gardiner to choose this so-called second setting of Faure's Requiem with its lighter instrumentation, for it creates, even more than usual, an ethereal effect, and in fact, is somewhat eerie. I loved it, but then I loved many of the other renditions of this magnificent work (one being the 1967 David Willcocks King's College Choir). They all have their merits and are worthy of note, just as the many 'Messiah's'that are available for us to enjoy, and we select the one that suits our present mood. However, my focus in this review is on the wonderfully performed Art Songs on this disc by Saint Saens, Faure, Ravel and Debussy. These are not performed very often and a few rarely.

'Camille Saint Saens'(1835-1921) was racked with pain when people addressed him as Saint Sanes. He held the human race to blame because they could not pronounce his name.' (Ogden Nash). I couldn't resist including this little verse, and in a way it reflects somewhat the mood of Saint Saen's life, for although he was looked upon highly by academics of his era, his fellow musicans were not that kind. His songs do not reflect this aspect, but have wonderfully singable lines. Moreover, above all he cares for the words and one need only to try changing notes at any point to discover how impeccably right his settings are. On this disc we hear: 'Calme des nuits'-'Les fleurs et les arbres'-'Des pas dans l'alee'.

Faure chose Victor Hugo's poems for a number of his early works which include (on this disc) 'Les djinns'(truly remarkable song that tests the mettle of the singers, and they are not found wanting). After Hugo, Faure turned his attention to a minor poet, Armand Silvestre,whose words, less forceful than Hugo's, nonetheless provided him with enough in the way of concrete imagery that resulted in the other song on this recording 'Madrigal'.

Debussy's 'Trois chansons de Charles d'Orleans' refer to the past through his choice of this fifteenth century poet. The first and third songs survive in an earlier 1898 version. The decidedly modal style of these settings gave way in a 1908 revision to a more elaborate, chromatic one. The imitative entries in the third song are the only patent example of this academic technique in Debussy's published output.

Ravel's 'Trois Chansons', published in 1916, combine pastoral activity and worldly cynicism. And these songs are rarely recorded!

All of this unaccaompanied music on this recording refers back in one way or another to the French partsongs of the Renaissance. And who can put them across in every way better than Gardiner with his scholarly approach, wanting all parts to be authentic and accurate.???!!!

With a 'flick' of his wrist or an understood signal to his choir he produces some of the most outstanding performances known to the musical world (at least to me). His choir is not only technically perfect in these difficult French songs, but is sensitive to the MANY and VARIED moods and subtleties therein. They never lose sight of the song's meaning; their tone is buoyant, their diction is flawless and the music always MOVES FORWARD. THIS IS A GREAT LISTENING TREAT!!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Perhaps we should just stop being surprised by John Eliot Gardiner, and begin to consider that perhaps there is no music, of any period, forces, or nationality, that cannot benefit from his transparent, lucid approach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
The Monteverdi Choir was founded in 1964 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and has been praised for not only the precision of vocal production but also for the purity of its sound. There are many very fine performances of the Requiem of Gabriel Fauré available but for this listener this is by far the most completely successful. Gardiner conducts the Monteverdi Choir with enhancement from the Salisbury Cathedral Choristers and his own Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique with soloists soprano Catherine Bott and Baritone Gilles Cachmaille in a performance that radiates the quiet French mood so different form other Requiem Masses. The choral balance is superb, the solos by both vocalists are pure and clean and almost straight tone, and the use of the Salisbury Cathedral Choristers in the 'In paradisum' is from another space than the earthbound one we occupy. It is simply sublime form beginning to end.

The recording is fleshed out with French songs for chorus, both acapella and with piano accompaniment (courtesy of Sadine Vatin), by Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré -all very well performed, but in the ethereal perfume following the Requiem they fade away. This recording is as spiritual experience as one can find. It is right for any time of the year, but especially now when the world is in such a state of unrest. Listening to this recording will help soothe that angst. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, November 10
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Faure's Grecian, pastel-shaded Requiem works well with the Gardiner steamlined treatment, and Faure's unconventional original scoring - with violins omitted except for a solo violin - is different and refreshing. It makes one wonder if perhaps Faure was beginning to see a way out of the 19th century penchant for gray, massed orchestral sound, just as he found modal chord progressions as a way out of the exhaustion of the functional tonal system.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Faure's Grecian, pastel-shaded Requiem works well with the Gardiner steamlined treatment, and Faure's unconventional original scoring - with violins omitted except for a solo violin - is different and refreshing. It makes one wonder if perhaps Faure was beginning to see a way out of the obligatory gray, massed orchestral sound of the 19th century, just as he found modal chord progressions as a way out of the exhaustion of the functional tonal system.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This is, in my opinion, the best recording of the Faure Requiem in existence. The chorus is clean, pure and beautifully together. Gardiner's interpretation is extremely convincing and moving. I've done my research and have listened to many other recordings. This is by far my favorite.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Thanks to the great reviews of this recording that I read here, I purchased this CD. The other reviewers were right - this is hands-down the best recording of the Faure Requiem. The singers are excellent without too much distracting vibrato. The tempi are just right. It is lovingly played and conducted. And the earlier version chosen by Gardiner without violins is better, with a darker sound. Plus, the smaller orchestra and chorus that Gardiner uses allows us to hear everything in the score. And last but not least, the recorded sound is so natural and life-like. By the way, I own all the highly recommended recordings of this work - Ozawa, Fournier, Shaw, etc... None of them compares to this one. The only problem is now I don't want to listen to the other recordings anymore! You cannot go wrong buying this CD.
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