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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The better of Fricsay's two excellent mono recordings?, 22 May 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
I have lost count of how many copies of this masterpiece I have on my shelves yet somehow I have until now delayed acquiring this studio recording made in 1953 in the famous, warm acoustic of the Jesus-Christus Kirche, Berlin. I had always heard of it as being some kind of gold standard recording by virtue of its drive and passion and I am happy to agree with a previous reviewer that the conducting is "white-hot".

Fricsay made another, later recording in 1960 but unfortunately that, too, is mono and opinion is divided about which is the better; on balance, most plump for this one by virtue of its having the same soprano is younger, fresher voice and a far more propulsive approach, resulting in the duration being only 75 minutes, allowing it to fit neatly onto one CD, whereas Fricsay is much more leisurely in the later, live recording.

Neither recording boasts the best team of soloists; here, the tenor is very musical but rather small-scale-white-voiced and inclined to aspirate. The bass Kim Borg is rather windy and hollow, not especially Italianate in the required black-browed fashion but he is expressive. The mezzo is the very sturdy, slightly plummy Marianna Radev, whom I have not previously encountered but she is certainly up to the demands of the part without being very imaginative. She, like Oralia Dominguez for Fricsay in 1960, is almost the star of the show by virtue of the amplitude of her voice. Stader, as I said, is in good voice but I like my Verdi sopranos to be somewhat meatier and more dramatic of tone. Nonetheless, she soars as she should in her high-flying passages, despite her rather "little-girly" sound.

It is the vigour of the choral contribution and the drive of Fricsay's direction which lend real distinction to this performance. He is somehow less overt and crude than Solti while being equally aggressive.

This is a fine vintage recording without being quite the paradigm some reviewers have dubbed it and the mono sound, good as it is, is inevitably rather too constricted to do full justice to such an epic work. Still, the spirit of Fricsay's aesthetic stance emerges intact and he gives us a compact, thrilling ride.

A word of caution: some might be irritated by the Teutonic Latin pronunciation in an "Italian-Latin" work; it takes a little getting used to.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 16 July 2011
By 
Mrs. S. Cartlidge "soosiecool" (North Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
I bought this CD as it was my late father's favourite piece of music and we used a few tracks at his funeral. Since then I have listened to it constantly and I find it very restful, despite it being a requiem.... the music, the soloists, the orchestra, it's all so beautiful.
This is a wonderful, and so marvellous for the price, piece of music.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Dramatic Requiem, 23 Sep 2008
This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
Friscay was DG's star conductor before the advent of Karajan and the former's untimely death. Despite sonic limitations this requiem is white hot from start to finish. Soloists all acquit themselves superbly. What a musical singer Stader makes despite a smaller than usual voice in the part. On one disc this memorable performance is a bargain, although a pity stereo wasn't available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Recording, 12 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
Ferenc Fricsay and the RIAS-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin deliver a truly powerful interpretation of Verdi's Requiem.

After researching the piece listening to samples on YouTube, iTunes and Amazon, it was a simple decision choosing this recording as my introduction to the piece. It is a decision I will never regret.

The soloists involved all perform beautifully, especially soprano Maria Stader and bass Kim Borg. Marianna Radev and Helmut Krebs are not to be overlooked and acquit themselves with very much aplomb.

The sound quality is fantastic and the fact that it is a mono recording is very quickly forgotten. The balance between voice and orchestra is excellent. The soloists are for me, placed perfectly and choir is finely balanced in relation to both soloist and orchestra.

I have heard a number of more contemporary recordings but for me, this recording is still my first choice. Whilst it may not have the benefits of later recording techniques being mono, the quality of the performance and commitment of all involved shines through brightly. I would not hesitate to recommend this recording whether as an introduction to the piece or for someone looking for a further recording.

5/5
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A firestorm leaping from earth to sky, rates five galaxies, 17 Oct 2007
By 
S. Chelydra (in London exile) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
There are times when you need a good requiem; this one is beyond great.

I've heard Verdi's Requiem a number of times, conducted by Serafin, Toscanini, and de Sabata, on vintage vinyl, but couldn't sustain much interest. Most reviewers think Fricsay is in their league, or close, but in fact he's the one that finally got my full attention riveted on this music. They've all had 50+ years of praises, quibbles, adjectives, and comparisons, but sometimes such weighing and measuring and judging misses the real point.

If you don't get this point, don't worry, it'll get you soon enough. You might be just looking to add one more well-chosen disc to your collection, stick it in a machine, sit back, enjoy, and congratulate yourself for making another fine purchase you won't regret. Buy this one. What matters is that you'll never throw it out, so you'll have it on hand when the time comes (as it will) when you really need this, only this, and nothing else.

When a requiem needs to serve its intended purpose (when most music and people seem dim, flat and woefully inadequate), no merely great performance will do. What you need then is to immolate your mind in a celestial conflagration.

This performance resolves the old debate about whether the piece should be approached dramatically or religiously. Fricsay does both at once. He shows more "true grit" than any cowboy as he rides the music like a rodeo bull -- but at the same he lets the music soar free as a flock of angels flying home at the end of the day. (What? Both at once? Yeah! Fricsay makes it seem effortless even if my words don't.)

This performance is earthy without being earthbound. It's been called refreshingly secular. But then who knows what music God would choose for Himself -- or for us, if He finds us poking around the net looking for something to hear while remembering the dead? We do know that Verdi understood exactly why he was writing his Requiem (not just to jazz up a celebrity funeral; his own wife and kids had burned to death), and Fricsay drives the point home, even if we don't quite get it before we need to. If their music is too full of life, without quite enough otherworldly consolation, maybe it's because their God prefers real life, with all its fiery drama, to the timeless spirit world. Maybe that's the point, and not just the point of this CD. Forgive me if I haven't included the requisite quibbles and comparisons. I think Requiems play by different rules.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good recording, 8 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
I received this on time and was able to listen to it before my concert..
It sounds good even on my old CD player
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17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review:- Verdi requiem, 20 Dec 2003
This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful recording of a wonderful piece. However,
having said that, I must point out some downsides.
This recording is a remastered copy of an LP. This will
virtually never be of as good quality as straight onto CD. The
sound quality is not always brilliant.
Dynamic range is huge. This presents the very unfortunate
problem that, falling asleep with this playing, one turns the
volume right up to hear the opening, and, having already fallen
asleep before the Dies Irae, often wakes up rather startled,
and somewhat deafer than before. Obviously, too many times
fallen asleep and this becomes less of a problem.
As far as intonation goes, in places a little is left to be
desired. Not always a problem though.
This recording certainly has its advantages. Musically, this
is a masterpiece. And considering its price, especially in comparison to the
others I was considering, one falls even deeper in love.
Not the best recording I have ever listened to, but certainly
the best around if you're not looking to spend a fortune.
Recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choir concert, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
This was very good music. I was very good to listen to and helped me a lot with my practice for the concert
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