- Requiem, for chorus
Randall Thompson's "Requiem" (1958) is widely regarded as his masterpiece, though it has received few complete performances, due to the difficulties of sustaining an hour-long work for double-chorus a cappella. This 2016 Naxos release by David Hayes and the Philadelphia Singers is the world premiere recording, and it shows the group's dedication in reviving this important American work. Thompson set Bible verses in English, instead of the Latin text of the Missa pro defunctis, and in the spirit of Johannes Brahms' "Ein deutsches Requiem," he created a vernacular work that reflects on the meaning of death and offers consolation to the living. The textures of the choral writing are quite full and flowing, and the harmonies are lush, often the result of divided parts and added-note chords. The Philadelphia Singers have polished their performance to perfection, and the group's transparent lines, clear enunciation, and warm vocal blend give a light and surprisingly joyous feeling to the music, which dispels the gloominess typically associated with Requiem masses. This excellent recording is long overdue, and is required listening for devotees of modern choral music.