- Requiem (Grande Messe des morts), for tenor, chorus & orchestra, H. 75 (Op. 5)
Paul McCreesh is one of the leading figures in the movement for historically informed performances, and he established his reputation primarily in Renaissance and Baroque music. Yet he is versatile and noted for his varied interests, and he has delved into the Romantic repertoire for this spectacular 2010 recording with Ensemble Wroclaw of Hector Berlioz's "Grande Messe des Morts." The immense forces required to perform this masterwork include the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, the Gabrieli Consort and Players, the Chetham's School of Music Symphonic Brass Ensemble, along with tenor Robert Murray and assistant conductor Benjamin Bayl, and they produce the wide range of colors and effects that Berlioz wanted. The famous Tuba mirum of the Dies irae -- notable for its deployment of the choir, an enlarged orchestra, four brass bands stationed around the auditorium, and multiple timpani, bass drums, cymbals, and tam-tams -- is certainly a high point in any recording of the "Requiem," and the combined ensembles deliver a stunning Last Judgment scene that rivals any that came before it. But the bulk of Berlioz's music is reflective and quiet, and McCreesh and his musicians demonstrate a spiritual depth and vast calmness that make this "Requiem" a profoundly meditative and moving experience. Signum's sound is spacious and resonant, which adds to the majesty and the mystery of the music.