The second Virgin Classics CD from the Orchestre de Paris under its new Music Director, Paavo Järvi, is entirely devoted to Fauré, with his Requiem as the centrepiece. The soloists are baritone Matthias Goerne and, singing the Pie Jesu usually assigned to a soprano, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky.
Paavo Järvi assumed his role as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris at the beginning of the 2010-11 season and this, his second Virgin Classics recording with the orchestra, is based on concerts that took place in Paris in early 2011. Like its predecessor, a programme of Bizet released in Autumn 2010 (admired by the UK’s Observer for the “perfect athleticism and agility … provided in abundance by the Orchestre de Paris under its new conductor, Paavo Järvi), it is entirely devoted to music by one French composer — here Gabriel Fauré. His serene, consoling Requiem is the main work on the CD, which also includes three other much-loved pieces and one little-known item.
“For a conductor from outside France, working on French repertoire with a French orchestra is an exciting prospect, and l’Orchestre de Paris is consummate in this music,” comments Järvi. “I discovered French composers pretty early on, as I was getting to know the Romantic repertoire, with Fauré, Bizet and Dukas. Debussy and Ravel came later. They were a revelation for me.” (Ravel, of course, was a pupil of Fauré at Paris Conservatoire, where the older composer taught for many years.)
The Requiem features two vocal soloists, usually a soprano and a baritone. Here, however, a countertenor – exclusive Virgin Classics artist Philippe Jaroussky – brings his ethereal timbre and sensitive phrasing to the poised Pie Jesu. His baritone colleague is the warm-toned German Matthias Goerne, acknowledged as on of today’s finest vocal recitalists. The Chœur de l’Orchestre de Paris also perform in three other works on the CD, the exquisite Pavane, with its flowing melody and mock-Rococo verses, and two early works to religious texts, the touching Cantique de Jean Racine and Super Flumina Babylonis (By the Rivers of Babylon).
Completing the programme is a purely instrumental work, the reflective, but impassioned Elégie for cello and orchestra, in which the soloist is the Orchestre de Paris’ Principal Cellist, Eric Picar