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LANCINO, T.: Requiem (Grant-Murphy, Gubisch, Skelton, Courjal, Radio France Choir, Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, Inbal)

Naxos 8.572771

   Choral Journal, November 2012
   Ritmo, April 2012
   The New Yorker, March 2012
   PS Tracks, March 2012
   Classica, March 2012
   American Record Guide, March 2012
   Pizzicato, February 2012
   International Record Review, February 2012
   Audiophile Audition, January 2012
   Culture Catch, January 2012, December 2011
   Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, December 2011
   Forum Opera (France), December 2011
   L’éducation musicale, December 2011
   Listen: Life with Classical Music, December 2011
   eMusic, November 2011
   Composition:Today, November 2011
   ON Magazine (France), November 2011
   David's Review Corner, November 2011

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C. Michael Porter
Choral Journal, November 2012

This recording accurately conveys Lancino’s angst and conflicting vision of death through both a stellar performance and transparent recording engineering. Although a composition of this style may be trying to modern listeners, Inbal’s direction provides the necessary drive and, subsequently, emotional release found in Lancino’s work; at no point did this reviewer perceive stasis in the musical momentum. The result is a recording that draws the listener into the dramatically rich libretto by providing precise and moving musical moments. Moreover, special commendations go to Inbal and chorusmaster Brauer for their ability to draw clear harmonic and melodic transparency from a difficult and dense score; one that could easily have produced a muddied performance if it were not in the hands of skilled interpreters. © 2012 Choral Journal

Fernando Remiro
Ritmo, April 2012

Writing a Requien is a challenge “à la” Rex Tremendae Maiestatis. It is a blind battle which attempts to twist words of marble (the liturgy) with one’s own quake, holding music as the only candle. Thierry Lancino takes on this challenge, making his Requiem revolve around Ovid’s Sibila (teste David cum Sybilla) who, having immortality, seeks death in the greatest act of imaginable hubris. And in the crash, in the echo of a scream, the music sketches the measure of that which is human. It is a score rich in resonance (from Messiaen to Saariaho, oriental percussion and strings of Mediterranean flavor) which reveals a mathematical and cabalistic God in the “Mors Stupebit”, violent and sinister in the “Dies Irae”, and majestic and dazzling in the chilling “Sanctus”. The intimacy of the “Ingemisco”, however, insinuates the muted solitude of all human prayer. Beyond the traditional text, Pascal Quignard (“Tous les matins du monde”) provides an interesting French libretto, although somewhat emphatic and baroque, which Lancino takes on with delicate and intelligent vocal writing. The recording, straight from the 2010 performance at the Pleyel Hall, boasts four very efficient soloists (especially an excellent Grant Murphy) and the brilliant chorus and orchestra of Radio France, under the baton of an enthusiastic Inbal.

Russell Platt
The New Yorker, March 2012

recorded with commitment by Eliahu Inbal and the Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France (Naxos); it’s a deeply institutional piece, a kind of compositional grand projet that shows off the new musical eclecticism of the French establishment. © 2012 The New Yorker

Lawrence Schenbeck
PS Tracks, March 2012

Viscerally exciting, and extremely well-crafted. The “Sanctus” demonstrates Lancino’s masterful use of textures and sonorities, à la Penderecki.

Conductor Eliahu Inbal’s soloists, especially mezzo Nora Gubisch (the Sibyl), sing passionately and well; orchestra and chorus deliver the goods also. And the multichannel mix is quite good, really helping unclot the big sounds in this big piece. © 2012 PS Tracks Read complete review

Michaël Sebaoun
Classica, March 2012

The Requiem by French composer Thierry Lancino has been commissionned by Radio France, Koussevitzky Music Foundations and French Ministry of Culture. The premiere occurred at Salle Pleyel in Paris, on January 8th 2010. The composer noticed a pagan presence within the liturgical text of the Mass for the Dead” : “Day of wrath … such as forseen by David and the Sibyl.” Lancino then wished to establish a dialogue between the pagan Sibyl and the biblical David, and asked writer Pascal Quignard to write the libretto (Galilée, publisher) in French, which would interweave Greek oracles and the liturgical verses. The work stands on the following paradox: “While David is pleading for eternal life, the Sibyl seeks annihilation” (Ben Finane). And Quignard adds : “Facing the desire of eternal life is the desire of death […]. Face to face are the two desires. The two pains […] The Requiem does not choose : to continue immortally, to end forever, Latin, Greek, David, Sibyl.” This is what distinguishes so profoundly this Requiem from the others, confides the writer. Lancino’s Requiem – and as was commented upon as soon as the premiere – “scans a vast esthetical field without ever sounding hybrid”.

Extreme dissonances, metallic, Ligeti like, which switch towards great melodic flexibility (Prologue), cries of anguish and strident strings (Kyrie), echos from Verdi (Dies Irae), extreme sparseness, narrow vocal range (soprano in the Ingemisco), poignant emotion (Lacrimosa). An obsessive tension, dark, ensures the unity of the work, quite at stake in the monumental orchestra, as well as in the intimate range. This beautiful Requiem, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by Eliahu Inbal, metamorphoses it, indeed, according to the will of the composer, into “an epic fresco”.

[Very good concert sound engineering] © 2012 Classica

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, March 2012

Lancino’s idiom is dark, bleak, and unremittingly intense. Moments of repose are few—and tinged with sadness when they do occur. Lancino shows a deft touch for orchestration when he wants his instruments to do something special.

Lancino is a master at terracing his dramatic effects. Just listen to the hair-raising entrance by the soprano section at ‘Kyrie eleison’. It proceeds out of the Sibyl’s cries for death, and the combined voices wind up sounding like the shrieking of harpies out for blood. The effect is electrifying. The ‘Dies Irae’ explodes in cataclysmic crescendos redolent of Verdi and Berlioz, with jagged syncopations adding even more terror to the shocking predictions of the liturgy.

This singing, playing, and engineering are extraordinary in all respects…it wouldn’t surprise me if visual elements could turn this into an even more devastating experience than it already is. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, February 2012

The Requiem by Lancino (born in 1954), which the composer characterizes as “an epic fresco” and “a sacred ceremony”, has also been described as “an eloquent contemplation on human mortality, between paganism and Christianity, exploring themes of death and time.”

Naxos publishes the recording of the world premiere which took place at the Salle Pleyel in January of 2010. The superb engineering of the Radio France recording takes great advantage of the surround sound and the high definition audio.

Using a modern language, often dissonant, strident, and often spectacular, Lancino takes up the character of Berlioz and Verdi Requiems, rather than the more comforting works of Fauré or Duruflé. And since I am into comparisons, at this point, I will say that Lancino reminds me of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem”, not quite reaching the depth and the musical quality of this composition, but really not being far at all.

What impresses is the management of the available forces by the composer: vocal quartet, chorus and very large orchestra, throughout its over 70 minute duration, with a tension that never lessens, whether when large masses are at stake, whether during intimate moments, or between the two, with multiple combinations that even include “a cappella” choir.

The soloists, the chorus and the orchestra are excellent and deliver a poignant interpretation, under the inspired musical direction of Maestro Inbal.

It is my opinion that this Requiem, which profoundly moved me, has a real chance to remain: it is a great musical work which imposes itself with strength in the linage of the great Requiems. © 2012 Pizzicato

Mark Pullinger
International Record Review, February 2012

Deviations from the liturgical Requiem Mass are not exactly new. Brahms assembled his own collection of biblical texts, setting them in German rather than in Latin, for his German Requiem. Nearly a century later, commissioned for the re-consecration of Coventry Cathedral, Britten’s War Requiem juxtaposed the traditional Latin texts with the war poetry of Wilfred Owen. Now, French-American composer, Thierry Lancino offers a version of the Requiem which intersperses the usual text with what is effectively a dialogue between the biblical David and the Cumean Sibyl, taking inspiration from the opening of the Dies Irae: “The day of wrath, that day will dissolve the world in ashes, as foretold by David and the Sibyl!” Pascal Quignard penned a libretto in which their contrasting pleas are heard: David longing for judgment and eternal life while the prophetess Sibyl, now some 700 years old, seeks annihilation.

The libretto includes narrative passages for David and the Sibyl in French and ancient Greek, while the chorus sings in the traditional Latin as well as the Greek when commenting (appropriately enough) on events. Two singers represent David; a tenor as David awaiting eternal life, while a bass is David, the Warrior. In addition, a solo soprano role is assigned to represent Everyman.

From the 13 hammer blows, the slippery double basses and the wind chords which summon the Sibyl, Lancino’s music has an arresting quality. His choral writing for the traditional Latin text achieves a contemplative nature, particularly when unaccompanied, but he is at his most challenging and interesting in the solo passages for the Sibyl, a dramatic, often hysterical portrayal vividly realized by French mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch, although the part lies so low it might be better taken by a contralto. Dissonant passages in her declamatory introductory and later “Song of the Sibyl” reminded me of parts of Birtwistle’s opera The Minotaur, such are its theatrical and mythic qualities. Having refused Apollo’s advances after the god had granted her life for as many years as the grains of sand she held in her hand in return for her virginity, the Sibyl was punished on a technicality, Apollo allowing her body to wither away as she had failed to ask for eternal youth. Eventually, just her voice remained, heard in Lancino’s score.

Stuart Skelton is the heroic-sounding tenor soloist representing David; the leading Peter Grimes of our day, he has no difficulty with the taxing tessitura Lancino demands but can be overwhelmed by the dense orchestration. Nicolas Courjal is the slightly tremulous bass. Moments of rest are few, as the music energetically propels the listener on. The exceptions arrive in the form of Everyman, appealing to be saved in the Ingemisco. Heidi Grant Murphy, sounding uncannily like Dawn Upshaw, with a slightly breathy soprano, beautifully sustains the long lines Lancino writes for her. What a pity that conductor Eliahu Onbal’s moans and groans are so intrusive here. The significant points of repose is in the “Agnus Dei”, where Lancino, starting with a cappella sopranos, gradually fleshes out harmonic texture with the rest of the chorus, before orchestra and soloists reappear for the closing movement, in which the Sibyl appeals to the Lamb of God to grant her eternal death.

Lancino’s Requiem is an inventive and impressive achievement. The vast scale of the work and the forces required to perform it may militate against many repeat performances. This would be a shame as one can imagine the impact it would create in the concert hall. The impressive playing of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France is matched by fervent singing from the Chœur de Radio France. Percussion, unsurprisingly, plays a huge part in the work and is well caught by the engineers in this recording, made during rehearsal and the premiere performance ate the Salle Pleyel in Paris.

Naxos has released the work in two formats, CD and audio-only Blu-ray. The advantages of the latter include slightly greater aural definition and the option of listening in stereo or surround via DTS high-definition master. There is also the option to view subtitles either in English or the original languages (including ancient Greek, for those fluent in it!), which is a welcome bonus, considering that, without it, the listener will need to log onto the internet to follow the libretto, or print out the 16-page PDF document. © 2012 International Record Review

Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, January 2012

it has moments of great power and beauty, featuring ethereal and delicate moments to overpowering full choral passages of tremendous force. Lancino, who spent much of his life working in electronic music, displays a real talent for dramatic communication and even some lovely, albeit intense, melodic passages.

I think that even those allergic to modern music will find much to enjoy here, as the composer’s style is not irrevocably wedded to dissonance for dissonance’s sake, but only in the service of the dramatic element, with many more familiar tonal characteristics wedded as well. Definitely worth a hearing. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read the complete review of the Blu-Ray Audio release.

Culture Catch, January 2012

Best of 2011: #4

Thierry Lancino (1954–) gives us the wildest Requiem in decades, a multi-culti affair that’s certainly not suitable for church use but makes for a most bracing musical experience. © 2012 Culture Catch See complete list, December 2011

Lancino’s Requiem is a powerful work and a difficult one on several levels—not especially easy to listen to or to think about. It is a piece that challenges rather than reassures the audience, and in so doing shows the power of modern choral composition within a more-or-less traditional form. © 2011 Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, December 2011

I was pleasantly rewarded lately by listening a number of times to…Requiem (Naxos) as performed by the massed forces of Choer de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonic de Radio France, soloists and conductor Eliahu Inbal.

It’s a 70-plus minute journey into an expressively modern treatment of the requiem form. The soloists express themselves with musicality and passion, the choir and orchestra are artfully served with a score that bubbles over like a cauldron of molten fire at times, and other times indulges in pianissimo murmurs that fit the sorrowful expression of the text by the solo vocalists. The orchestra reinforces and underscores the choir and soloists, as is fitting in such a work.

The performance is spirited and excellent. Lancino’s music has undoubtedly some considerable merit. I would most definitely like to hear more of it. It is undoubtedly a work and a performance that merit the attention of modern music lovers. © 2011 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Laurent Bury
Forum Opera (France), December 2011

No! Not any differently than the “Just of the Gradual,” Thierry Lancino has not to fear bad reputation: with this Requiem, he seems to be well established in the heavens of today’s best French composers. The CD Naxos just released will fulfill those who, having witnessed the premiere of the work, wished it immortalized by a recording.

Dies iræ, dies illa, Solvet sæclum in favílla,Teste David cum Sibýlla! The desire of a dialog between the traditional text of the catholic liturgy and sources taken from the Old Testament (David) and even the pagan world (the Sibyl of Cumes) was born from the three first verses of the “Dies irae.” He therefor asked the French specialist in antiquity who gets a great deal of media attention, Pascal Quignard, to conceive an ambitious set of texts which includes the well-known Latin poem, often reduced to its first verse of each part. This way, a new and complex ritual is born, admirably served by the musical score. Through various clanking and tinkling, in the midst of fierce bites from the brass, alternating climax and appeasing moments, Thierry Lancino produces here a masterly work in which moments of great dramatic forces are given to the choir and to the soloists. These moments let us imagine what an opera composer he would be (his personal site announces among his projects a short lyric work after Borges short story, “The Immortal”).

Noticed in several premieres of new music at the Bastille Opera (Salambô by Philippe Fénelon, Perelà by Dusapin), Nora Gubisch has the privilege to perform the two superb monologs of the Sibyl: all along the work, with an impressive vehemence, but with a voice constantly mastered, she calls for death with all her will, sometimes in French, sometimes in Greek. To this desire of annihilation, David answers by his desire of eternal life. The king of Israel is split into two performers: the simple mortal, anguished, is sung by a tenor; the warrior, self-confidant, by a bass. Nicolas Courjal, in the past, a member of the troupe assembled at the Opéra Comique by Pierre Médecin, is today one of the rising French basses. His short solos are here always striking. The diction of Stuart Skelton is not perfect, but the bravery of his voice is never caught off guard in this role which requires a strong tenor (his repertoire includes heaviest Wagner and Strauss roles). In contrast to the other soloists the soprano is not identified as a specific character, she is simply the “human figure”. Heidi Grant Murphy succeeds—better in new music where she feels sheltered than in a more traditional repertoire—to soften the aging of her voice, even though her vibrato tends to hoot in high pitches forte. She delivers a poignant and sober “Ingemisco”, first a capella, then sustained by the celli. A few passages are given to the choir alone: the Kyrie, the Offertorium, the Agnus Dei: it is the opportunity for Radio France Choir to show the strength of its different sections, in the softness and the violence as well.

Without renouncing his Ircam experience, Thierry Lancino accomplishes, for the last few years, an authentic work on voice and declamation, without requesting the singers to be constantly in the extremes of their tessitura, and with great care for intelligibility. Here is a “spiritual” music which does not give in to the easy ways of a certain ecstatic minimalism, but goes for a quest for new sonorities, mixing timbers and textures for a result which is inspired and inspiring as well.

Sylviane Falcinelli
L’éducation musicale, December 2011

Another Requiem ? No! Rather a transfiguration—at a metaphysical and symbolic depth—which would find its place in the category of oratorios. Indeed, the unfolding of the work, conceived by Thierry Lancino and conveyed in the libretto by Pascal Quignard, interpolates the Latin liturgy with the incantations of the Sibyl (in ancient Greek and French) as well as lines of The David shared by two singers, in order to reflect the contrasting two sides of his psychology. This idea is indeed original and takes its source from a verse of the Dies Irae which until now was never given any attention. These pagan relics, along with whiffs of human condition, take life in the margin of the Catholic canon which had concealed them in its folds. Rather than margin, I should actually speak of counterpoint and opposite movement, allegorically: the Christian aspiration for eternal life clashes with the “I want to die” calls of the Sibyl, punished to perpetual aging by Apollo.

After he spent years dedicated to electroacoustic and Ircam, the composer has found his own balance in a style of writing which deliberately claims melodic beauty and dramatic expressiveness in a language which does not betray in the least bit modernity. On the contrary, it opens it to human and spiritual resonance, and vectors of deep emotions. His challenge was to re-create timelessness within the theme of eternity using present musical means; his way of evoking antiquity by using stylization and sonorities of our time reminds of Stravinsky’s approach in Oedipus Rex (but—let me get that straight—with a totally different personal language). The use of the percussion and exotic instruments adds to this spiritual journey. Emotion uses multiple paths: the exposure of a pure vocal line (the soprano solo of the Ingemisco) or the poignant harmonic chords in the innermost depths of the chorus (Lacrimosa) ; at an other place the sculpting of malleable orchestral timbers and clusters from which voices arise (Sanctus) ; lastly the resolution of all previous conflicts through a subtle infiltration of a “classic” counterpoint in the Dona eis requiem.

The premiere of this work, at the Salle Pleyel, was recorded by Radio France on January 7 and 8 of 2010. The release of the recording uses the material from the concerts. Let us congratulate the performers for having so brilliantly mastered “live” from such a complex and immense work (72 minutes of music). The vocal casting is better on the female side: the role of the Sibyl falls to Nora Gubisch whose flamboyant temper on stage and warm voice excel in exceptional characters (she embodied an unforgettable Pythonisse in Honegger’s Roi David at the Palais Garnier last March) ; a vibrating innocence radiates from Heidi Grant Murphy who embodies the suffering of a simple mortal. The singers of Radio France Chorus (prepared by Matthias Brauer and Sébastien Boin) demonstrate their total commitment to the drama as a real characters. The Orchestre Philharmonique is at ease in new music, and Maestro Inbal is particularly fond of ambitious frescos. Let’s prophesize (please, Sibyl, forgive us!) that such a rich and so sincerely thought out work will have access to eternal life by entering the repertoire. This work will always make its own resonance on the constant questioning from the human soul because it shows pure inspiration—beyond divides of a “dated” aesthetic—and imagines creative force of the the moment with a universal dimension. © 2011 L’éducation musicale See original review in French

Listen: Life with Classical Music, December 2011

“Thierry Lancino’s audacious work keeps in the tradition of the Requiem but is by no mean traditional, reconceiving the form as a sacred oratorio, or in the words of the composer, “an epic fresco.” Inspired by the liturgical text “Dies irae…teste David cum Sibylla” (“Day of wrath…as announced by David and the Sibyl”), Lancino’s Requiem unfolds as a dialogue between the pagan Sibyl—from the Greek “Sibylla,” meaning “prophetess”—and the biblical David. With the choir functioning as a Greek chorus of sorts, the four soloists are the oratorio’s principal actors. David is sung by the tenor and the Sibyl by the mezzo-soprano. The soprano (Heidi Grant Murphy) is the mortal, suffering Everyman, and the bass represents the warrior side of David. Challenging but approachable, the musical landscape is wide and far-reaching, yet the work’s lexicon steers clear of any dogmatic or academic approach. In collaboration with librettist Pascal Quignard (Tous les matins du monde), Lancino’s Requiem makes for a thoughtful meditation on Death and Time.” © 2011 Listen: Life with Classical Music

Steve Holtje
eMusic, November 2011

If you want a challenging mix of bracing dissonance, stark beauty and non-standard techniques, this Koussevitzky Music Foundation commission premiered in 2010 is perfect. Quignard sets up “desire for annihilation and desire of eternity” alongside each other; the clashing sounds and styles reflect the clashing philosophies of the Psalmist David (dually portrayed by tenor and bass soloists and the pagan Sibyl (mezzo-soprano), plus Everyman (soprano), while the choir acts as Greek chorus. This work reaches far beyond the parameters of a standard Requiem, becoming an epic, multi-cultural oratorio. © 2011 eMusic Read complete review

Christian Morris
Composition:Today, November 2011

When Radio France, the Koussevitsky Foundation and the French Ministry of Culture commissioned Thierry Lancino to write a new work in this genre, they wanted him ‘to renew the tradition of the Requiem’. Like Britten’s clever use of Wilfred Owen’s poetry fifty years ago, Lancino brilliantly achieves this by taking as his starting point the opening of the long Dies Irae text: ‘Dies irae…teste David cum Sibilia’ (Day of wrath…as attested by David and the Sibyl’). This moment, he notes in interview, adds a pagan touch to the Christian poem; the Cumaean Sibyl was granted near eternal life by the god Apollo but, after she refused his love, he denied her eternal youth, her body withering away and shrinking until it was eventually kept in a jar. The Requiem therefore unfolds as ‘as a dialogue between the pagan Sibyl and the biblical David’. The Requiem text is preserved in its original order, but like the Britten, is interspersed with a secondary text, here in Latin, French and Greek—the languages to an extent representing the protagonists—by Pascal Quignard. The twist here is that the libretto explores the idea of David begging for eternal life, whilst the Sibyl begs for death as oblivion, a release from her torment.

The musical language of this splendid new work places it more in the blood and thunder tradition of Verdi and Berlioz… One of the most musically striking passages is the Sanctus. Traditionally a moment of luminescence, here heaven and earth do not feel filled with glory but with an ethereal writhing of restless souls. The effect is both marvellous and disconcerting. The flow and interaction between the different planes—the more impersonal writing for chorus (who largely stick with the Requiem text) against the drama amongst the soloists—is expertly controlled throughout by the composer. More than anything, however, the work is about the relationship of the Sibyl to death, most movingly in the Lacrymosa, where her pitiful longing for oblivion appears alongside the lines ‘Dona eis requiem’, (‘Grant them rest’).

Chœr de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and soloists Heidi Grant Murphy, Nora Gubisch, Stuart Skelton and Nicolas Courjal give white-hot, emotionally charged performances in this recording from Naxos. In particular I would single out mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch; her portrayal of the desperate plight of the Sibyl is incredibly moving. © 2011 Composition:Today Read complete review

Michel Jakubowicz
ON Magazine (France), November 2011

Only few composers of today dare braving this grand form of sacred music which is the Requiem. Yet, it is without any complexes that Thierry Lancino tackles a genre in which Gilles, Mozart, Berlioz, Brahms, Verdi and many other famous composers who preceded him.

Ambitious in his aim, Thierry Lancino’s Requiem, based on a libretto by Pascal Quignard, proposes no less than exploring the immense unknown territories of Death and Time. Opening with a sound that has clear similarities with a mournful tocsin (Prologue), the work includes in its fold two quite extraordinary characters : on one hand the Sibyl, on the other David the warrior who leads us to the devastating Dies Irae, and closes with the Dona eis requiem.

This Requiem, premiered in January 2010 in Salle Pleyel under the baton of the precise and demanding conductor Eliahu Inbal, who was leading the Chœur and Orchestre of Radio France, reveals a composer who is able to revive a sacred form which one thought was definitely obsolete, condemned to pure and simple disappearance. Such a complex, powerful work, was given life thanks to the commitment of the outstanding vocal soloists. This colossal challenge was achieved with great panache by the commanding cast that night at Pleyel… It included the mezzo-soprano Nora Gubisch, and soprano Heidi Grant-Murphy, along with tenor Stuart Skelton and bass Nicolas Courjal.

Another decisive element played quite a part in the Requiem by Thierry Lancino: namely Radio France Choir, which was perfectly integrated in the dramatic unfolding of the work. © 2011 ON Magazine (France) Read the French version of the CD release

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2011

Composed two years ago, Thierry Lancino’s Requiem challenges and questions  our thoughts on the conventions surrounding the ending of mortality. The composer describes this long, and often highly charged score, as ‘both an epic fresco and sacred ceremony’ our experience of this performance telling us that the first part of that description is paramount. Setting out on a career in the world of electronic music, the French-born composer has had a mid-life change of direction and looks towards more conventional scores. For the Requiem we are in the world of Penderecki, though its roots are in the era of Honneger. By interspersing into the normal layout of the Catholic mass two characters—David, taken from the Biblical character, and the Greek mythological female, Sibyl—Lancino has created a score more akin to an oratorio. He uses three languages, Latin, Greek and French, the libretto supplied by Pascal Quignard, and scored for the conventional soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass soloists, large choir and orchestra with an enlarged percussion section including some modern ‘toys’ beloved by today’s composers. In length a substantial work lasting well over seventy minutes, it has grown on me with repeated hearing, though its impact is striking even on first acquaintance. I guess it is an extremely challenging work to perform, not least on the choir in terms of pitching notes, and the solo voices are often singing against, rather than with the orchestra. In sum, this is a vivid and impressive work, and this world premiere recording from Radio France conducted by Eliahu Inbal, demonstrates an exceptional level of preparation.

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group