Every year the same thing happens. I invest a huge amount of time and finances into my vegetable garden and despite careful planning absolutely everything comes at once. So in order to get our monies worth for the next month it is going to be spinach, beans and lettuce for breakfast, lunch and dinner, intermingled with the odd strawberry that the mice have kindly left us.
This weeks recording is the beautiful Requiem by Gabriel Faure (1845-1924). He was a french composer, organist, pianist and teacher. One of the foremost composers of his generation whose musical style was to influence many in the twentieth century.
Faure was the sixth (unwelcome) child to be born to the family. His father was a village schoolmaster and up until the age of 4 he was fostered out. As such he never really experienced family warmth and love, perhaps why he commented sadly to his son Philippe later "For me….music exists to elevate us as far as possible above every day existence". Faure began to study music and was later taught by the great Saint Saens, the two remained firm friends until the older composer died. In later life Faure was director of the Paris Conservatoire a post he held from 1905 for 15 years. Here he gradually went deaf but wanted to keep his handicap a close secret, which his friends helped him to do. He wrote some of his later works stone deaf.
In his seven section Requiem, he distilled some of the most beautiful melodies he ever composed. The work was written as a tribute to his father who died a few years earlier. As with much western classical music, the Requiem owes it's roots to the Christian faith. At it's heart is a prayerful lament for the dead. However because Faure was not a true believer, rather than the more usual sombre, hell, fire and damnation, it is calm, serene and peaceful. Of all the seven sections the Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei and In Paradisum emerge as the most glorious filled with rich soulful melodies. It was performed at Faure's own funeral in 1924.
There are many wonderful recordings of this work but the one that I recommend is by Sir Neville Marriner with soloists soprano Sylvia McNair and baritone Thomas Allen. He uses a slightly fuller orchestration than some recordings which I think gives an extra richness to the work. You can download just the Requiem.