The Majesty of Fauré's Requiem Revealed

Paavo Järvi realises a vision of beauty and and subtle expression.

Composer: Fauré
Repertoire: Requiem; Cantique de Jean Racine; Super Flumina Babylonis; Pavane; Elégie Artist: Philippe Jaroussky, Matthias Goerne, Choir of the Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
Rating: 4/5

Genre: vocal

Label: Virgin Classics 0709212

The Music: Fauré noted that his requiem was ‘composed for nothing... for fun’. The loss of his parents may have conditioned his outlook while creating the score’s first version during 1887-88. But the composer regarded death as a happy deliverance and wrote a serene requiem to match.

The Performance: Recorded live at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, this album brings out the elegiac gentleness of Fauré’s Requiem, a quality often overshadowed by performers determined to convey romantic energy at the expense of expressive subtlety. Paavo Järvi’s vision of the music is built on subtle expression: listen, for example, to the variety of inflection, the rhythmic ebb and flow and tonal variety applied to Libera Me by Matthias Goerne, choir and orchestra. Philippe Jaroussky is pleasing enough in the Pie Jesu, but less so than the best female soloists in comparably fine recordings. Yet this release, complete with cellist Eric Picard’s delectable Elégie performance, amounts to front-rank Fauré. 

The Verdict: Emotional and cerebral intelligence are harnessed by Paavo Järvi, a musician clearly dedicated to Fauré’s cause. Even the composer’s familiar Pavane, done here with optional chorus and stripped of false sentiment, sounds fresh and new in its classical elegance.