Finally, Berlioz in all his glory

I was very excited to see that Paul McCreesh had recorded Berlioz’ Grande messe des morts.  I am a great admirer of McCreesh’s work – his Matthew Passion is superb as are his recordings of Handel oratorios.  Nothing could have prepared me though for this.  I have known this piece for years and finally I have heard what must be the definitive interpretation.  First up the choral singing is exceptionally fine.  Credit must go to the tenors who are absolutely fearless.  Indeed this is some of the best choral tenor singing I have ever heard.  The orchestral playing from a band playing a blend of modern and period instruments is outstanding – the brass bands in the tuba mirum and lacrimosa are incredible and the noise made by the percussion in those moments is simply awesome.  Yet what sets this interpretation apart is the fact that it is sung in the Latin pronunciation very similar to what Berlioz would have heard.  I have always felt that this piece should really be sung in Latin pronounced à la française and this is it.  Ok, I could complain that it is not quite 100% authentic – for example Sanctus is pronounced /Sænctys/ rather than /Sãnctys/ but it is still a great achievement.  Robert Murray is a good tenor soloist although perhaps it’s a shame McCreesh didn’t have someone such as Lawrence Brownlee or Juan Diego Flórez on hand to do it.  This music is made for a high Rossini tenor.  If this record is not picking up awards by the bucketload soon, then there is seriously something wrong with the world.  This is one of the finest recordings of all time for sure.  Better still, it is currently available to download in the UK from Amazon for only GBP6.99.  Now, Paul, how about a Troyens….

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