Both Duruflé and Fauré wrote their Requiems for choir and organ first. The orchestrations were afterthoughts bending to the excesses of public appeal and publishers' demands, at least that's what I was taught in college. Both works can be wonderful with orchestra and on this CD, the consistently excellent St. Martin in the Fields gives a beautiful interpretation of the Fauré Requem with orchestra.
Handel's Coronation Anthems were written in 1727 for George II and Queen Caroline, and have been performed at every British coronation since that occasion. Zadok the Priest will be familiar from its use in the film The Madness of King George. Handel's arpeggiated suspensions in the strings build excitement from the outset, but the entrance of the choir and full orchestra is shattering beyond expectations.
Allegri's early Baroque masterpiece Miserere from around 1630 movingly juxtaposes modal chant with tonality, and was so popular that the Vatican refused to allow it to be performed anywhere else - until the 14 year old Mozart broke the Vatican's monopoly by writing it down from memory after attending a performance. Pergolesi's late Baroque masterpiece Stabat Mater for soprano and alto dates from 1736, the year of his death at the age of 26. It was originally written for male voices but since it's hard to find a castrato these days, it's generally performed by two women or by a female soprano and counter-tenor. This performance uses a female alto but in other respects it's very much a period performance - the sound is intimate and the tempos are lively without any sacrifice of spiritual depth. The soloists, soprano Monika Frimmer and alto Gloria Banditelli, sing beautifully without overdoing the vibrato, and their voices are well matched. The disk also contains a brief "Sonata a quattro" by Vivaldi, and another setting of the Stabat Mater, by the late Baroque composer Antonio Caldara from around 1725.(Kenneth Dorter)