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The record label PHI (as in the Greek letter, representing the Golden Section) was founded by Philippe Herreweghe in 2010 to allow him the freedom to record major repertoire of his choice. The 40-strong mixed chorus Collegium Vocale Gent has – hard to believe – been under his direction since its foundation 45 years ago; he has been principal conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic since 1997. Eight recent releases range from a cappella works by Gesualdo and Byrd, through Haydn and Mozart to the Dvořák Stabat Mater.

The Requiem is significant in Dvořák’s output because – in the composer’s own words – it takes ‘a step or more forward’ by comparison with the Stabat Mater and his larger-scale works. Cogent programme notes suggest that it marks a turning away from the Viennese style and an assertion of his individual voice. The drama and lyricism are played out with a vital energy by Herreweghe. Soloists engage with the text and the orchestral playing is clean; instrumental solos gleam from this enticing score. The chorus is thoroughly balanced part to part, and the recording makes every word audible. This insightful and polished interpretation of a great work is highly recommended.

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica

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