Robin Ticciati & DSO Berlin - Debussy: Nocturnes – Duruflé: Requiem - BBC Music Magazine
Here are two great masterpieces with little in common. While Debussy's Nocturnes is secular in outlook, Durufle's Requiem is thoroughly, earnestly sacred. Both works use choir and orchestra, but Debussy's singers are an extension of instrumental colour while Durufle's orchestra expands the timbres available from his Cavaille- Coll organ. The meandering openings to each work may suggest a kinship between the clouds of Debussy's 'Nuages' and the incense that envelops the Requiem; yet it is disconcerting to move from the outdoor world of the Nocturnes into the intense sombre beauty of Durufle's church. The performances have some fine qualities, Robin Ticciati coaxing shimmering textures from his orchestra in 'Sirens'. 'Fetes' also has great spirit, though the opening strings lack bite, not helped by a flabby acoustic. It might be thought this would suit the Requiem, and the Berlin Radio Choir often makes a glorious sound; but, unusually for a German choir, the words frequently disappear amidst the resonance, especially when the orchestra gets excited. Where textures are lighter, such as in Magdalena Kožená's marvellously sustained Pie Jesu, the opening of the Agnus Dei and the In paradisum, the results are sublime. Overall, though, this is less than the sum of its parts.