1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2013
This was one of the first recordings of the Mozart Requiem that I bought and, on balance, I think that it is still my favourite. It is a recording that stands the test of time and I have returned to it often with increasing satisfaction. Davis was a great Mozartian and brings out considerable detail within an overall majestic conception. It was one of his best recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, along with his Idomeneo. The soloists are fine, especially Donath and Minton,but the John Alldis Choir are even better and are superbly captured by the recording. Several people have written elsewhere about the quality of choral recordings from this period in comparison with later digital versions and I'm inclined to agree. The words are caught with clarity yet the recording also has atmosphere. It is a moving experience listening to this disc so shortly after the death of Colin Davis. This performance is highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2012
My favourite recording of Mozart's requiem. The soloists and choir complement each other. Notable are the "Dies Irae"- which sounds like a day of wrath, the majestic Sanctus and a sinuous and haunting Benedictus ( a desert island disc for me).
Quite literally music to die for.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This disc has been on my cd-rack for a couple of years now. I happened to see some unfavourable comment on it, which surprised me as I had thought it rather good, but it deterred me from offering an opinion until I had something to compare it with other than my recollections of other performances. I have just obtained a recording by Giulini, partly to mark that great man's passing and partly to attend to this unfinished business. Giulini's account has few if any critics, but in the last analysis Davis is even better, I am now emboldened to say.
I suppose it is mainly a matter of the recording. This is perhaps surprising, as Davis's dates from as far back as 1967, Giulini's from 11 years later. There's not a lot in it so far as the orchestral sound goes, the difference is in the recording of the voices, particularly the chorus. I have no idea what remastering may have been done since 1967, but the clarity of the words on this disc is nearly startling - they are as clear as on some of the most recent sets of Handel himself, surely the ultimate master of vocal writing. As usual with the Penguin Classics series, under whose aegis this disc is issued in England, the texts are not provided, but you would hardly need them here unless you also need a translation. Another point that struck me forcibly was that both maestros have a very similar idea of the proper tempi in this work. One is a little faster in this movement and not quite so fast as the other in the next, but the divergence is not great anywhere, and in a work lasting the best part of an hour the overall difference is only 40 seconds. These tempi are my own idea of admirably judged, and if that makes them both slower than the general run of performances, as I have seen suggested, then it may be the general run that needs a little rethinking.
However I believe that the recorded quality partly highlights some aspects where Davis outdoes even Giulini in the actual performance. To my ears, there is a definite sense of greater majesty at the start of the Sanctus here, and I'm in no doubt at all that Davis achieves more drama and power when he leads off the Dies irae - this is really quite exceptionally effective. Indeed I'd say that there is not a weak spot from start to finish. That sublime start makes its effect as it should, Davis puts up a very good show in passing off the appalling Tuba mirum section (which is not by Mozart and threatens to let down the entire masterpiece) with a semblance of dignity, the soloists are flawless so far as I noticed, the chorus are well served by the recording and admirable in their own right, and I have no fault to find with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
In the Penguin Classics series under which this disc is also issued in England the accompanying essay is by D M Thomas. As normal with other examples of this series that I own, it is an essay by a distinguished author, suggested by but not specifically relating to the music. Thomas writes simply, candidly and movingly about the death of his wife from cancer, how he returned from a visit to her sick-bed and played a recording of Mozart's Requiem, and the thoughts and reflections that it evoked in him. As is also standard practice in this series, the words are not provided. There is nonetheless a short note on the music itself, as usual stopping short of stating clearly which parts of the work are, or are believed to be, from the hand of Mozart's pupil Suessmayr after the master's own death.
It may be that the comment I saw shortly after obtaining this record was not typical, and it's certainly the case that what I have seen since is much more favourable in tone. As far as I'm concerned this is an admirable set of a work whose greatness is of a unique kind, and whether or not I was guided mainly by parsimony in my original choice I did not go wrong, and neither will you if you choose it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2011
I'm not capable of making telling comparisons between leading editions of works by the great composers. All I can say is that this supreme work by Mozart is beautifully presented here.
This piece is one of the great achievements of European culture. I don't think anyone would be disappointed by this version - rather, they will be carried away by it.