Evil Penguin presents: Vlaams Radiokoor - Brussels Philharmonic Hervé Niquet - Marion Tassou - François Saint-Yves F. Poulenc: Stabat Mater A. Desenclos: Requiem
Thursday, October 3th, 2019
On the final instalment of its Requiem series, Vlaams Radiokoor (Flemish Radio Choir) enters the 20thcentury with funeral music by composers so close to us that we can almost touch them. Following acclaimed recordings of the iconic requiems by Fauré and Brahms, the choir and its conductor Hervé Niquet now serve us stunning versions of Poulenc’s Stabat Mater (1950) and Desenclos’ Requiem (1963), both ultra-Parisian pieces which steer clear of the standard requiem horrors to convey a message of hope. Hervé Niquet is one of the most interesting conductors of our days. His oeuvre spans 400 years of (mostly French) music – from about 1600 to well into the 20th century – and the man is in many ways more “authentic” than the strictest baroque player, albeit without the archaeological fundamentalism. Niquet wants to know what music sounded like in the days it was incepted, but he is even more interested in what it signified. As a consequence, he is interested just as much in the stories and symbols which motored the notes as in the notes themselves. Niquet is chiefly known as the conductor of his own period ensemble Le Concert Spirituel, but in the last decade he has established successful collaborations with two Belgian ensembles which underwent spectacular transformations under his baton, viz. Vlaams Radiokoor and the Brussels Philharmonic: "I love Vlaams Radiokoor for their technical competence and their honesty. And they have the artistic integrity to defend everything which comes their way.” The alliance between these ensembles and Niquet has spawned a number of splendid recordings. Of the logical predecessor to the present release – the Fauré Requiem– the authoritative music magazine Gramophone claimed that it was so “refreshing” and “life-affirming” that it lived up to its “declared brief to be ‘an aspiration towards happiness’”. The critic of the MusicWeb International deemed it “one of the very best performances of the 1893 version that I can recall hearing on disc”, while Crescendo lauded Niquet for his “capacity to create a single sound, a single breath, due to a beautifully shared energy and a deep understanding of the work and its history”. The Poulenc and Desenclos pieces on this release fit in the Parisian requiem tradition incepted by Saint-Saëns, and continued by Fauré and Duruflé. Strictly speaking, Poulenc’s Stabat Materis not a requiem, but its intention is commemorative (it was written on account of the death of a close friend), and its tone mystical, although Poulenc’s playfulness and theatricality are always in evidence.