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Poulenc: Gloria - Stabat Mater - Litanies (1993/2000)

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Poulenc: Gloria - Stabat Mater - Litanies (1993/2000)

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Gloria 	(25:46)
1 	I Gloria 	2:56
2 	II Laudamus Te 	3:07
3 	III Domine Deus 	4:47
4 	IV Domine Fili Unigenite 	1:19
5 	V Domine Deus, Agnus Dei 	7:08
6 	VI Qui Sedes 	6:29

Stabat Mater 	(30:52)
7 	I Stabat Mater Dolorosa 	4:08
8 	II Cuijus Animam Gementem 	0:58
9 	III O Quam Tristis 	2:50
10 	IV Quae Moerebat 	1:23
11 	V Quis Est Homo 	1:24
12 	VI Vidit Suum 	3:31
13 	VII Eja Mater 	1:00
14 	VIII Fac Ut Ardeat 	2:20
15 	IX Sancta Mater 	2:58
16 	X Fac Ut Portem 	3:37
17 	XI Inflammatus Et Accensus 	2:05
18 	XII Quando Corpus 	4:38

19 	Litanies Á La Vierge Noire: Notre-Dame de Rocamadour 	9:47

Chorus – Westminster Singers
Conductor – Richard Hickox
Orchestra – City Of London Sinfonia
Soprano Vocals – Catherine Dubosc


Recorded in 1990 when English Richard Hickox was better known as a choral rather than an orchestral conductor, this disc joining Poulenc's well-known Gloria and Stabat Mater with his less-well-known Litanies à la Vierge noire contains more than simply unaccented performances of these French twentieth century religious masterpieces. It contains truly moving performances of timeless religious masterpieces. With the Westminster Singers and the City of London Sinfonia, Hickox creates performances that make the works seem less specifically of their place and time and much more generally about faith and devotion. He accomplishes this not only by the choir's neutral pronunciation of the Latin texts and the orchestral wind's less pungent tonal qualities, but also by smoothing the phrasing and rounding the sonorities so that in the end these performances seem less French or English and simply as more deeply humane. Naturally, French soprano Catherine Dubosc sings with Gallic nobility and passion, but the affecting sincerity of her interpretation raises her above ethnicity to sublimity. Although anyone who really loves this music will of course want to hear some of the great emphatically French performances of the Gloria and Stabat Mater -- Georges Prétre's classic EMI recording is a superlative place to start -- anyone looking for great performances of the works will not be disappointed by this disc, especially in Virgin's deep, clear, and full sound. ---James Leonard, allmusic.com


Poulenc’s Stabat Mater (1950) and Gloria (1959) are recorded here with his earliest religious work, Litanies à la vierge noire. Litanies, written in 1935 after Poulenc’s return to Catholicism, was scored for female chorus and organ. The women’s voices of the Westminster Singers offer an extraordinary range of sound and colour, alternating declamation with ethereal chromatic moments, sensitively punctuated and supported by the Sinfonia and Hickox. The Stabat Mater and Gloria were both composed for soprano, chorus and orchestra. The former’s opening bass entry, marked ‘très intense et très doux’, should have been stronger, and Catherine Dubosc occasionally has an edgy quality, but her sweeping lines in ‘Fac ut portem’ are wonderful. From the drama and tension of ‘Quis est homo’ to the tonal contrast and pathos of the ‘Sancta mater’ and ‘Quando corpus’, this is an exciting and moving performance. In the well-contrasted Gloria, the rhythmic fun and energy of ‘Laudamus te’ and ‘Domine fili unigenite’ are truly ‘très vite et joyeux’. Dubosc shapes poignant lines in all her solos but her ‘Domine Deus’ is achingly slow. Poulenc described his Gloria as a ‘grand choral symphony’ and Hickox’s recording certainly justifies that description. ---Elisse McDougall, classical-music.com

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