"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."
C Michael Porter - Choral Journal - November 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."
Russell Platt - The New Yorker - March 2012
Fernando Remiro - Ritmo magazine - April 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." *****
Remy Franck - Pizzicato magazine - February 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."
Philip Greenfield - American Record Guide - March 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."
Mark Pullinger - International Record Review - February 2012
"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." ****
Michel Jakubowicz - ON Magazine(France) - November 2011
"...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." ****
Steven Ritter - AudiophileAudition.com - January 2012
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