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Verdi: Requiem & Cherubini: Requiem in C Minor

Verdi: Requiem & Cherubini: Requiem in C Minor

28 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 4 Oct 2004
  • Release Date: 4 Oct 2004
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • Copyright: (C) 2004 EMI Records Ltd.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 2:15:07
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001IO04TO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 77,092 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 10 May 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Recorded in the grand and atmospheric acoustic of the now demolished Kingsway Hall, this is a really thrilling and dramatic Verdi Requiem, more in the Solti mode rather than the reverential Giulini style and it certainly fields a better team of soloists than what is for me that inexplicably over-praised recording.

I have hardly listened to this since I first bought it on its issue over thirty years ago yet I find my reactions have hardly altered, except for an increased tolerance for Scotto's mannerisms.

Verdi was not a conventionally religious man, if religious at all, and he stresses the human drama of the liturgical text. The more versions of the Verdi Requiem I hear and own - and it must be thirty now - the more I side with Muti's approach here, which is urgent, propulsive and demonstrative in Grand Opera style. It is not especially fast or slow at around 86 minutes but it gives an impression of speed. Muti was not yet forty; this is the first of three recordings of this work and while the second La Scala account has an equally starry quartet of soloists, this one remains his best, despite one major caveat.

Its advantages are many: the sound, I have already mentioned; the Ambrosian Chorus in its heyday, the Philharmonia Orchestra reliably superb, the rock-solid, saturnine bass of Yevgeny Nesterenko in his absolute prime - how another reviewer can describe him has characterless escapes me - the splendid Italianate tenor of Luchetti in the first of his two excellent studio recordings of this work; the tangy, plaintive mezzo-soprano of Agnes Baltsa; these are all distinct bonuses that combine to create one of the most immediate and compelling recordings of this oft-recorded masterpiece that I know.

For some, the stumbling-block is Renata Scotto's wobble.
Read more ›
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Keith on 27 Feb 2013
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I just adore thispiece of music - I'm not much of judge of these things, but it seems like a good quality recording.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jimh on 11 Jan 2013
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The technical stuff seems OK - sounds fine to me. If the review is of the actual music - well, Verdi's better at writing masses. The Cherubini seems lack-lustre and imitative after the Verdi. One point for interesting discussion - why do I, as an atheist, find Verdi's music so moving ? The words are so much mumbo-jumbo - lambs, trumpets, father killing his son, salvation - it's all just nonsense. But the effect on me anyway is as if I believe in it - uplifted by the Gloria, soothed by the Benedictus/ Weird !
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Anne M. Squires on 12 April 2010
Format: Audio CD
It helps enormously, when required as a member of a choir to learn a new Requiem within eight weeks, to hear the work in its entirety, knowing that the performers have endured the same learning curve as oneself (albeit as a mere amateur!). This recording captured the drama, energy and beauty of Cherubini's masterpiece, which, on first listening left me completely breathless! Luckily I was able to recover in time to deliver at the concert. The Verdi? Prepare to be both shaken to the bone, and moved to tears.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Theatrical Verdi, ravishing Cherubini 21 April 2007
By pyramidcvv - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Listeners may be familiar with Riccardo Muti's 1987 La Scala recording of the Verdi Requiem featuring Studer, Zajic, Pavarotti, and Ramey (a wonderful album but a bit pricey). This earlier recording (June 1979) with the British is, fortunately or unfortunately, quite a different rendition.

Muti's 1987 recording featured brilliant but well-disciplined singing. In this 1979 album, however, the discipline seems to have been left outside the recording studio.

Words are grossly mispronounced, soloists are often a bit flat, and some of the vocalizing is uncomfortably forced. There is also a lot of use of ritards that sometimes sound overdone.

But what made up for these drawbacks - and why I really LOVE this CD! - was the no-holds-barred theatricality. If you want a performance that is every bit as operatic as Verdi never wanted it to be, if you want every human emotion front and center, if you want a reading that couldn't care less about all those vocal niceties that music teachers charge so much to teach - well, here it is!

The CD fools you at first. The opening Requiem chorus is barely audible, as is often the case. But suddenly you get punched in the face with the angriest, most violent "Te decet" basses you've ever heard. Forget the usual hymn-like treatment this passage normally gets. These hymnists are carrying sledgehammers.

When the four soloists enter for the Kyrie, they leave no doubt that this really is going to be Verdi's "greatest opera." I have never, ever heard the Kyrie opening with such prima donna bombast.

Veriano Luchetti had recorded the Verdi Requiem just two years earlier with Georg Solti and Leontyne Price. He was theatrical then, and still is. It's a real pleasure to hear him go full voice in places like Quid sum miser and Hostias.

Agnes Baltsa would later record a marvelous Verdi Requiem with Herbert von Karajan (1984). Her big, powerful voice still rings with Muti.

Evgeny Nesterenko is a star of the Russian opera world. In 1979, he was no doubt the Jerome Hines of the USSR. Of all the Verdi Requiem basses I've heard, Nesterenko is one of my favorites. His pronunciation will make purists cringe, though, and half the time he sounds like he's singing through his nose. But his monumentally deep bass sound and swooping vocal theatrics are so much fun to listen to!

While all of the soloists did their part to maximize the drama, I think Renato Scotto gets first prize. Her Recordare is the weepiest I've ever heard, with lots of pop-music style inhaling to add to the emotion. In the Lacrymosa, you can almost see the tears coming down; you'd think you were watching the final scene of Madama Butterfly. In the Libera Me, she sounds frightfully angry, like she's ready to punch God in the face. Scotto has a huge voice with a bit of a wobble; she is recorded extremely well here.

The Ambrosian Chorus, like the La Scala Opera Chorus several years later, had their hands full with Muti's lightning-fast tempos. Practically all the choral highlights (Dies Irae, Sanctus, Libera Me fugue) are done at frightening speeds which this chorus handles with great control. The sopranos are strangely over-miked at times: during the Libera Me fugue, their long sustained notes were distractingly loud and detracted from the main melody line.

The Philharmonia Orchestra does well, but even they can only do so much. Muti conducts the Dies Irae so quickly, that the strings literally have to slow down ever so slightly so they can negotiate the virtuosic runs. The brass sound great throughout, but sometimes they are over-miked to the point where they drown out the chorus.

Luigi Cherubini (1760 - 1842) wrote two requiems. The first, the Requiem in C Minor, was written in 1816 in France. If you've never heard a requiem that has no soloists, I strongly recommend this performance by Muti, the Ambrosian Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra (recorded July 1980, London).

Cherubini was a contemporary of Mozart's, so comparisons are inevitable. Mozart never came close to finishing his requiem; Cherubini's score is complete from cover to cover. Personally, I was totally enchanted with this setting and am at a loss as to its infrequent recordings and performances.

The Cherubini Requiem lasts 48 minutes. The opening Introitus and Kyrie were subdued and very moving, quite unlike Verdi's version. The Dies Irae was a powerful statement, proving that a good chorus and orchestra are all you need to depict Judgment Day.

The Offertorium, at 16'33", was the longest movement. It features a heavenly setting of the phrase "sed signifer sanctus Michael" and a rousing setting of "Quam olim Abrahae" that must surely have lifted the audiences off their chairs.

The Sanctus is short (only 1'20") but is overwhelming in its majestic sweep. The requiem finishes with a dramatic setting of the Agnus Dei that might surprise some modern ears.

The Ambrosian Chorus makes the most of this exhilirating score; they are a joy to listen to. Muti and the Philharmonia seem to have put the Verdi behind them, and have formed a satisfying partnership that makes this precious music shine.

No texts or translations. This 2004 album was released earlier in 1996.

Highly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
All-out operatic, no holds barred 26 Sep 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
On its first CD release The Gramophone's reviewer ranked Muti's first Verdi Requiem, from 1979, as among the top ten ever recorded. but in the LP era some critics found this performance so compelling that it was ranked No. 1 on many lists. In retrospect one may ask: Where did such exaggerated praise come from? Because to my ears Muti is blunt, coarse and even assualtive in his approach.

First among its virutes, the professional Philharmonia chorus sounds superb, singing with wonderful unity and musicality (though not with Verdian fervor). All of the soloists are exemplary except for the aging Scotto--she was the greatest artist among them but not the spinto-dramatic soprano required here, or the alternative lyric soprano one sometimes hears (e.g., Schwarzkopf).

More generlaly, this was a hot shot's Requiem, eschewing spirituality for raw power and impact. Muti's Dies Irae and Sanctus were exhiliratingly fast. Memories of the fiery Toscanini were recalled. Now the Dies Irae seems like a pardoy as it races past. To tell the truth, the one thing that riveted my attention, despsite the wobble in her voice, was Scotto's tragic, almost wild solo singing. Muti's second try in the Nineties delivered a tamer reading, but this one can stand as a tribute to his early promise as Toscanini's all-too-brief successor.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One which seems even better with the passage of time 10 May 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Recorded in the grand and atmospheric acoustic of the now demolished Kingsway Hall, this is a really thrilling and dramatic Verdi Requiem, more in the Solti mode rather than the reverential Giulini style and it certainly fields a better team of soloists than what is for me that inexplicably over-praised recording.

I have hardly listened to this since I first bought it on its issue over thirty years ago yet I find my reactions have hardly altered, except for an increased tolerance for Scotto's mannerisms.

Verdi was not a conventionally religious man, if religious at all, and he stresses the human drama of the liturgical text. The more versions of the Verdi Requiem I hear and own - and it must be thirty now - the more I side with Muti's approach here, which is urgent, propulsive and demonstrative in Grand Opera style. It is not especially fast or slow at around 86 minutes but it gives an impression of speed. Muti was not yet forty; this is the first of three recordings of this work and while the second La Scala account has an equally starry quartet of soloists, this one remains his best, despite one major caveat.

Its advantages are many: the sound, I have already mentioned; the Ambrosian Chorus in its heyday, the Philharmonia Orchestra reliably superb, the rock-solid, saturnine bass of Yevgeny Nesterenko in his absolute prime - how another reviewer can describe him has characterless escapes me - the splendid Italianate tenor of Luchetti in the first of his two excellent studio recordings of this work; the tangy, plaintive mezzo-soprano of Agnes Baltsa; these are all distinct bonuses that combine to create one of the most immediate and compelling recordings of this oft-recorded masterpiece that I know.

For some, the stumbling-block is Renata Scotto's wobble. She is extraordinarily expressive and committed, capable of wonderful diminuendos and a superbly controlled messa di voce; she lives every moment of the text with an intensity that completely eludes more recent exponents, some of whom might be singing anything - but the vibrato is distinctly intrusive. She has all the notes, even if the top is a little screechy and I for one am swept along by her conviction. True, the voice should not have been in such perilous condition in only her mid-forties but she pushed too much too soon in spinto roles when perhaps she was essentially a lyric soprano. Who knows? She gave us some splendid verismo turns in roles such as "Adriana Lecouvreur" and "Andrea Chénier" and her singing here is first cousin to those assumptions. It works for me, despite its flaws. Her entry on "Sed signifer" and concluding B flat in the middle section of the "Libera me" are ethereal and the wildness of her subsequent vocalisation in combination with the sheer size of her voice simply adds to the impact.

Every review I write of this piece finds me using the Offertorio as the ultimate test for its quality. This version certainly delivers and I like particularly Luchetti's contribution to the quartet. The swing with which Muti infuses "Quam olim Abrahae" is just right.

I have no great taste for the Cherubini Requiem for all that Beethoven admired it and I love "Medea"; it has always struck me as essentially bland but here it is well performed as a fifty-minute bonus for those who care; I don't.
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