Lionel Meunier – Biber – Requiem (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:11:57 minutes | 1,27 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front cover | © Alpha
The winner of numerous prestigious prizes, including several Gramophone Awards, the vocal ensemble Vox Luminis, founded by Lionel Meunier in 2004, is now regarded as a benchmark in the interpretation of the great works of German Baroque music. Its unfailingly faithful and lively approach to such masters as Bach, Buxtehude and Scheidt has made the group’s reputation, but this new recording features a major work by Heinrich Biber, a composer hitherto absent from its discography: his Requiem in F minor for 14 voices, composed around 1692. The programme is completed by two sacred works by Christoph Bernhard (Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener in Friede fahren and Tribularer si nescirem misericordias tuas), two pieces by Johann Joseph Fux, and the Sonata a 6 in A minor of Johann Michael Nicolai. This recording marks the beginning of a collaboration between Vox Luminis and another internationally renowned ensemble, the Freiburger Barockorchester, heard here in its Consort formation.
With an ever-increasing string of prestigious prizes to Vox Luminis’s name – their various Gramophone Awards including winning the 2019 Choral Category for their Buxtehude Abendmusiken – it’s impossible not to expect high things of each new offering from this Belgian early music vocal ensemble under the direction of Lionel Meunier. All the more so, though, for this latest exploration of the German Baroque repertoire they’ve made their calling card, because not only is it the first time they’ve taken the music of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (c1644-1704) into the studio, but this recording also marks the beginning of a collaboration with another internationally acclaimed period ensemble, the Freiburger Barockorchester, which appears here in its consort formation.
The good news is that the results are magnificent. Complementing and bookending the Biber are a handful of works by Christoph Bernhard (1628-1692), Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) and Johann Michael Nicolai (1629-1685), and it’s Bernhard’s Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener in Friede fahren that sits as the curtain raise – a luxuriously sighing beauty which gives us the pleasure of being introduced to the various artists one by one as it slowly blossoms out from its organ and solo violin opening. Before the voices even arrive, the luminous-toned and lucid-textured FBO have given us a profoundly soulful song without words, after which the gradual layering of fresh voices, everything wonderfully shaped and impeccably blended, is feeling so transcendental that you’re almost wondering where they’ve given us the emotional peak too early, and left themselves nowhere further to go. But no. In fact, the intimate understanding of the texts, the warmed crystal purity of the voices (what a soprano sound….), the corresponding expression from the instrumentalists, the perfect balancing of all of these voices with each other, and the sheer freshness of the readings, don’t dip for a second across the hour which follows. Further tutti highlights include the nimble, crisp articulation and urgent energy of the Biber Requiem’s Dies Irae, a major-keyed movement more akin to jubilant dance than the sombre-toned hell and brimstone number that these words tends to bring to mind. Also the joyous, easy flow of the concluding Omnis terra adoret, K. 183 by Fux. Treats from the FBO alone meanwhile include the infectious playfulness with which the sweetly earthy-toned strings circle and bow to each other over Fux’s Sonata a 6 in A minor; and throughout, the softly unobtrusive colour coming from the brass.
In short, this is feeling like the start of a beautiful relationship. © Charlotte Gardner
01. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener
02. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Tribularer si nescirem
03. Freiburger BarockConsort – Sonata a 6 in A Minor
04. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: Ia. Introitus
05. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: Ib. Kyrie
06. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: II. Dies Irae
07. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: III. Offertorium
08. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: IV. Sanctus
09. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Requiem in F Minor, C 8: V. Agnus Dei – Communio
10. Freiburger BarockConsort – Sonata a 4 in G Minor, K. 347
11. Vox Luminis, Freiburger BarockConsort & Lionel Meunier – Omnis terra adoret, K. 183