* Prices may differ from that shown
Introducing people to a new genre of music is often best accomplished through compilation albums, particularly where the music in question is not what one would really consider "mainstream" listening. Compilations enable one to listen to a range of music which, although of a type, will often vary quite a bit. I've found this to be particularly true of the classical genre. Some classical pieces can feel very inaccessible to the novice listener and concertos, sonatas and symphonies can go on for what seems like an age. So, when the time came for me to introduce someone to sacred works I decided that compilation was the way forward.
As a label Naxos are well known for producing good quality but cheap recordings and were one of the first labels to open up the classical market challenging the more established labels to produce cheaper discs. I've always found Naxos to be reliable and, indeed, some of my favourite versions of classical pieces can be found on this label. One thing to note, if you're not overly familiar with classical music, is that the recording can make all the difference. The variation in interpretation of the musical score can be as varied as thinking of all the cover-versions of popular songs - no two are ever the same.
Requiem is subtitled "music for Reflection and Meditation". It takes various well known settings of the requiem mass, together with a couple of other fitting pieces and puts them together in one place. If one is so minded, one should note that this album is NOT a requiem mass. The pieces don't follow in the right order but, having said that, to the knowledgeable, the whole album stands on its own as a good religious set.
One of the other advantages of this compilation is that it introduces some composers who are less well-known. When one says "requiem" one might think of Verdi or Mozart but here we also have offerings from Spanish composer Lobo (a motet) and the Italian Pergolesi (an extract from his Sabat Mater).
I feel that Naxos have really got it right with this compilation. The perfect balance between the known and the unknown is struck with excerpts from the more well known Requiems by Mozart and Verdi featuring more than once meaning that you never feel that far from the familiar. The ever popular "In Paradisum" from Faure's Requiem is included along with an excellent recording of Stanford's "Agnus Dei" and "Lux Aeterna".
In keeping with Naxos' budget label the recordings used on this compilation are drawn from the original label recordings. This means that they vary in terms of performance and style and, if you are minded, you are able to go on and buy the full recording on the Naxos label. The majority of the recording artists are Eastern European, again, common for the Naxos label.
Without exception I've found each track to be a good example of the work - it's not the purest or best performance (and I really do feel that the Phillips/Decca label is hard to beat for this kind of Sacred music) but each stands well against the competition. I like the fact that the varied recording artists mean that you can get a feel for the variety of sound that can result in this genre. It also makes the genre far more accessible.
The album is one that you can lose yourself in very easily. It's an album for a glass of claret and dimmed lights. It also works well as background study music - there's something about it that just doesn't get in the way and seems to heighten the ability to concentrate.
If you like this offering then Naxos have several albums in this range (Classical Music for Reflection and Meditation) including Agnus Dei, Sanctus and Gloria. If you really like reflective albums then their Miserere album is hard to beat.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Music On The Death Of Queen Mary: March - Laurence Cummings
2 Versa Est Est In Luctum - Oxford Camerata
3 Stabat Mater: Quando Morietur
4 Saul: Dead March
5 Requiem: Introitus: Requiem Aeternam
6 Requiem: Dies Irae
7 Requiem: Lacrimosa dies illa
8 A German Requiem: Ihr habt nun Traurigleit
9 Requiem: Pie Jesu
10 Suite Gothique: Preiere A Notre Dame
11 Requiem: In Paradisum
12 Requiem: Agnus Dei And Lux aeterna
13 Requiem: Agnus Dei
14 Requiem: Libera Me