Notes & Reviews:
Poulenc's Stabat Mater, which the composer described as, "a requiem without despair," was written in 1950 following the death of Christian Bérard, a leading figure of 1940s Paris who designed the sets for Cocteau's films and plays. This masterly work, dedicated to the Virgin of Rocamadour, gives pride of place to the chorus and clearly shows its line of descent from the French motets of the age of Louis XIV. It is paired with the Sept Répons de Ténèbres, Poulenc's last choral work. Although sacred in nature, it was written for a non-religious celebration, the opening of New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This recording's superb cast features soprano Carolyn Sampson and the Estonian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra led by Daniel Reuss.
BBC Music Magazine, May 2014
The word 'powerful' is not one we naturally associate with Poulenc...Still, these are vivid and, yes, powerful performances.
MusicWeb International, 9th April 2014
Carolyn Sampson is a wonderful soloist and the combined choirs, which number just short of fifty singers, perform Poulenc's varied and demanding music expertly...The splendid performances on this disc make the best possible case for Poulenc's sacred music.
International Record Review, April 2014
This is a beautiful recording, and a valuable coupling of Poulenc's two most serious works for chorus and orchestra ... Very warmly recommended.
Gramophone Magazine, May 2014
Sampson eloquently expresses the isolation and apprehension of the solo line [in the Sept RTpons], and the mixed voices...sensitively and dramatically project the sombre, fearful, abject world in which Poulenc finds himself. Theirs is also a fine performance of the Stabat Mater...The choir and orchestra rise fully to the eruptions of emotion.
American Record Guide, July/August 2014
The singing is spellbinding in all respects. Carolyn Sampson is bewitching, especially in her 'Vidit Suum', which is yet another interlude that lasts considerably longer (45 seconds or so) than either Shaw or Deneve. HM offers sound that's as biting as the performance. For a walk on Poulenc's manic side, you've come to the right place.
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