"Poulenc rediscovered the Roman Catholicism of his childhood when a close friend was killed in a road accident in 1936. A pilgrimage to Rocamadour in the Pyrenees led to his composing the Litanies á la Vierge Noire and other choral works. The masterpiece here is the double-choir Figure Humaine, a wartime setting of poems by Paul Eluard that culminates in a great cry of â€˜Liberte’; but the other pieces, too, are all marvellous. It’s hard to imagine them being done better: Tenebrae’s tone, balance and intonation are superb. All but one are unaccompanied - the organist in the Litanies should have been credited."
Classic FM Magazine - September 2010
Choral & Song Choice
"...Tenebrae is equal to every challenge. The tuning is impeccable, the phrasing intelligent and never forced, the balance always adjusted to the demands of Poulenc’s textures, which are frequently not as straightforward as they look on the page. Not least, the sopranos float ethereally in the more lyrical moments - we know from Poulenc’s letters over the Gloria that he did not want beefy vibratos, let alone the sort of noises described by Faunré as emanating from ’old she-goats who have never known love’. The demanding top E at the end of Figure humaine crowns the work as it should.
One of the things that comes over from these superb performances is a sense of fragility: in the midst of life we are in death. Partly this is due to the group’s wide dynamic range (in absolute accord with Poulenc’s scores) which accentuates the music’s unpredictability mentioned above: in the Litanies a la Vierge noire, quasi-plainsong supplication is suddenly shredded by searing dissonances. A disc to be treasured."
BBC Music Magazine
“For purity and precision of tone, and flawless intonation, Nigel Short’s chamber choir Tenebrae is pretty much unbeatable.”
“It’s a fabulous disc, I can’t stop listening to it at the moment; it’s practically cemented itself to my CD player – it’s beautiful.”
BBC Radio 3 - CD Review
"... Poulenc’s wartime hymn to liberty, all performed with colour and skill by Tenebrae." ****
The Telegraph - 18 June 2010
"The survey of Poulenc’s choral works by Nigel Short and his superb 33-voice choir is inevitably dominated by one work: Figure Humaine ... It’s not only one of Poulenc’s greatest achievements, but one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary pieces, with its waves of voices climaxing in the great shouts of Liberte in the closing moments, which Tenebrae control quite beautifully." ****
The Guardian - 4 June 2010
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