Sir Colin Davis is a revered Berlioz expert and his LSO live Berlioz recordings have been one of the most widely acclaimed series of classical recordings of recent years and collected numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards for 'Les Troyens'. The release of the monumental 'Grande Messe des morts' marks the completion of this cycle and further confirms Sir Colin s status as one of the greatest living conductors of Berlioz s music. Recorded in St Paul s Cathedral, a fitting acoustic for the work, the London Symphony Orchestra opened the 50th anniversary of the City of London Festival with the Requiem, joined by English lyric tenor Barry Banks and two of London s finest choirs, the London Symphony Chorus and London Philharmonic Choir. 'Grand Messe des Morts' is a popular Berlioz creation, yet remains a rare and special treat. A requiem whose text derives from the traditional Latin Requiem Mass, it was composed, uniquely, by a man with no firm religious belief. Throughout the piece there is an extreme variation of dynamics. Poignant, reflective music is contrasted with four blazing brass ensembles, ensuring a powerful and grand listening experience. Recent releases on LSO Live from Sir Colin include the final release in his acclaimed Nielsen symphony cycle. In May 2013 you can look forward to Sir Colin Davis conducting Weber s 'Der Freischutz'.
St Paul s Cathedral s acoustics are notorious for their resonance. Even under the dome, the sound can be confused. (In the nave, it is just a blur.) Yet music conceived for such a space thrives in it. In this live recording of Berlioz s Requiem, made at last year s City of London Festival, the enigmatic rising phrases that launch the work continue to reverberate hauntingly in the surrounding silences, and the tone of the combined LSO and LPO choirs singing beautifully and bringing out the music s profound sadness is wonderfully enhanced. Colin Davis fits the work to the conditions with a master hand. Memorable. --David Cairns, The Sunday Times 17 March 2013
***** Davis distils a lifetime s practical expertise with Berlioz into a performance that is noble, thrilling, intimate and richly satisfying. His orchestra plays for him as if possessed and the massed choirs are exceptional in what they deliver. Tenor Barry Banks provides just the right combination of sweetness and power in the Sanctus, his one solo. --Choir & Organ
EDITOR S CHOICE There s some lovely orchestral detail; woodwind semiquaver illustrating lux perpetua ; stabbing, syncopated chords from the upper strings in the Lacrymosa ... Whether in 2012 or 1969, Colin Davis is a must-have. --Richard Lawrence, Gramophone June 2013
This may be the most purely beautiful Berlioz Requiem on CD. --American Record Guide