This is my first ever entry on the French composer Gabriel Fauré, after more than 5 years of this blog and hundreds of posts. Why did it take me so long? Well to be fair, there are only a handful of his works of this late romantic composers that I actually know. Coming from a German speaking background originally, French composers just weren’t very high on the list of stuff that you’d be aware off. In my personal library that contains thousands of albums I only have 16 that include some music of him, mainly some piano and chamber music.
The only major work of him that I knew and loved for more than 20 years now is the requiem.
I still try to remember where I first discovered it. I still think it was in a movie soundtrack, I even remember a scene with clouds drifting over a sky, and this beautiful music that immediately struck me as truly celestial. I tried to find the movie, and Fauré is listed in more than 100 of them in IMDB, but I couldn’t retrace that scene just yet. I keep digging.
In any case, his requiem is truly special, unlike any other requiem that I’m aware of.
Catholic requiems are typically, in the spirit of Mozart and Verdi, to name two of the most famous ones, very big and sometimes even threatening affairs. After all, it includes the Dies irae, the “Day of Wrath”, that starts like this “Day of wrath and doom impending. David’s word with Sibyl’s blending, Heaven and earth in ashes ending.”.
Well, no ashes in Fauré’s requiem. He simply skips the Day of Wrath, and focuses rather on In Paradisum, which I presume does’t need translation.
Overall, this really is the most peaceful (even compared to my beloved Brahms German Requiem) of all works for mourning the dead that I’m aware off.
My father passed away about a year ago, so I’ve been listening to this, as well as the Brahms, quite regularly. While I’m not at all religious, both works really give me solace.
For years I only had one version, which I still treasure today, by Michel Corboz with the Berne Symphony Orchestra. Not necessarily a reference version, but still one of my favorites.
But I wanted to write about this one instead:
Fauré: Requiem – Paavo Järvi – Orchestre de Paris (Erato 2011)
Regular readers of my blog know that I’m a fan of Paavo Järvi. He is here conducting the Orchestre de Paris, which obviously is very familiar with this work. I still often see that French orchestras have an advantage for French music, as it is so engrained in their culture.
On top of a top notch conductor and an orchestra that knows what it is doing, you also get two fantastic soloists, Philippe Jaroussky and Matthias Goerne.
Finally, this album will also give you an overview of some of the other large orchestral works of Fauré that are worth knowing, like the Cantique de Jean Racine, the Elegie for Cello, and the Pavane.
My rating: 5 stars
You can find it here (Qobuz).