Capella Amsterdam, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Estonian NSO/Daniel Reuss, (Harmonia Mundi)
Poulenc’s Catholicism, the faith to which he returned after a pilgrimage to Rocamadour in 1936, was deeply entangled with his personal life. His Stabat Mater (1951), richly scored and suggestive of his Les Dialogues des Carmelites, linked Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Faithful Disciple with a trio of the composer’s intimate friends. Similarly, in the less familiar Sept Répons des Ténèbres (Seven Tenebrae Responses), an isolated figure of a young boy – Poulenc himself? – contemplates the nature of existence. Poulenc wanted an all-male choir, but the voices of the Cappella Amsterdam and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir make a strong case for a mixed performance, with Carolyn Sampson (soprano) a wonderful soloist in both these powerful and beautifully articulated performances.