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on 1 October 2006
This may well be the Verdi Requiem you always waited for; in spite of its almost 40 years of having been recorded, it is only now that it gains legal and therefore more widespread circulation. Thoroughly idiomatic, with a cast the stuff dreams are made of, a marvellous and authentic-souding choir and orchestra. If Karajan's antics and mimics, the maestro ever the grand poseur, annoy or distract you, turn the telly off and just listen to the sound through a good sound system. The sound is remarkably fresh and proportions or sound planes between soloists, orchestra and chorus well managed. The La Scala orchestra may not be the Berlin Philharmonic -at the time an awe-inspiring virtuoso body of orchestral musicians, but Karajan still ventured ocasionally out of his Philharmonie to conduct elsewehere and other ensembles, his love affair with the Dresden orchestra is well documented- but they were long accustomed to the maestro's ways (they had often worked together since the war and through the 1950's and 1960's) and their enthusiasm and commitment do compensate for their lack of finesse -again, compared to the berliners of the time, I don't want to imply they play sloppily or inaccurately, nothing of the sort, they may well have been, and by far, Italy's best orchestra at the time-. The vocal quartet is beyond belief and has been sufficiently praised by specialised critics the world over.

There were complaints in the press at the time of the concert this film was connected to about Karajan's overly theatrical approach, but in a way the work calls for it, Toscanini being the obvious model. Southern european warmth and commitment, roman catholic awe before the inevitability of death ot the ever announced day of wrath and a musical setting much imbued of the pomp and circumstance the Vatican Council would do away with a century later? That is the cultural environment the performance takes place in, the performance inheritance Karajan and his musicians performed under, barely three years after Vatican II strongly frowned upon the liturgical context Verdi wrote for, regardles of whether you think this Requiem better suits the church or the theatre. In some way or another, most of the great recordings of the work throughout the 20th century are closely associated with italians or roman catholics (Toscanini, De Sabata, Serafin, Abbado, Muti), practising or not but definitely bred and raised within a solid roman catholic conception of what a Requiem Mass is about and what it means. Does the work prove elusive to non-catholics then? Perhaps, but Karajan extracts wonders from his performers, Price and Cossotto the undoubted stars of the event. The would-be Parma footballer, Luciano Pavarotti, (thank God he exchanged the ball for the voice) is hard to recognise without his familiar beard and (for his later standards) slenderness, rendering a Kyrie and an Ingemisco that announce why he was starting to make a lot of noise in italian musical circles (and proves Karajan's hindsight as regards promising singers), Ghiaurov was by then an established figure, sought by all great houses on both sides of the Atlantic.

There is no way for me to sufficiently praise this recording. There are visual flaws as the work was studio-recorded to a large extent (if not in its entirety, there's no way to tell accurately) and the sound later dubbed in onto the image, which of course allowed Karajan to concentrate substantial film time on his image, gesturing and playing the mesmeriser to orchestra, soloists and chorus before an absent audience. He was, as I said above, a grand poseur but no doubt a fabulously equipped musician, to borrow somewhat from Harold Schonberg's remark on Bruno Walter, as this Verdi Requiem recording amply proves.

Full 1960's glamour then, weird female hairdos and all, all fully dressed up in full gala costumes for a truly memorable experience.
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on 29 October 2010
More like an opera than most Requiems but absolutely stunning. I've seen criticisms of the filming but - hey - it's fine by me and the orchestra and soloists are spectacular.
Can't get the melodies out of my head..................
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on 15 March 2010
This is the 3rd DVD I own, of Verdi's Requiem. This is an excellent performance, full of religious feeling and precise conducting by Karajan. The Scala Orchestra are playing beautifully, but not quite up to the standard of the Vienna Philharmonic in the more recent version of the work again conducted by Karajan, this time in Vienna. The chorus is absolutely excellent, as in the case of the other recording.
Coming now to the soloists. The mezzo-soprano, Fiorenza Cossoto, is probably the best of the four, singing with great feeling and ample voice without even a score in front of her. Leontyne Price has an excellent voice, which perhaps in not entirely suited to this kind of music. She too sings without a score with great ease, effortlessly and seems to know the music backwards. A great contrast with Anna Tomowa-Sintow on the latter Karajan recording who obviously struggles to produce her high notes. The tenor is the amazing young Luciano Pavarotti, with a powerful voice; sounding very different to the well-known Pavarotti timbre we are so familiar from his latter recordings. His voice has not matured to his latter standard but is still exquisite. In contrast with the two sopranos, he uses a score which he occasionally glances as he has his eyes fixed on the conductor most of the time. Nicolai Ghiaurov starts brilliantly, but fails in a sense to deliver the full body of the interpretation required by the bass. He too has to look at the score most of the time. For comparison, one can listen to Boris Christoff, on the EMI CD recording under Tullio Seraphim. It is simply in a different league. What a pity Karajan did not use him for this recording.
This is a "studio recording" made in La Scala. That means the theatre is empty, with no audience, giving a strange atmosphere to the proceedings. The latter Karajan visual recording takes place in an absolutely packed Musikverein in Vienna in 1984, providing much greater warmth in the performance. The sound and the image on this recording are somewhat dated as the recording dates back to 1967.
EMI have released a visual recording of the performance that took place in Berlin, under Claudio Abbado, when he was obviously very sick with cancer at the time. The date is the 27th of January 2001, which is exactly a century after the 27th of January 1901, the day Verdi had died. The image and the sound are greatly improved in the 21st Century recording. The feeling that the conductor and the actual date convey is demonstrated not only in the soloists, chorus and orchestra but also in the audience there, who provide the players with a full minute of silence at the end, before the thunderous applause to acknowledge what they have just witnessed.
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on 7 April 2014
Orchestra, chorus and soloists do a superb job: Ghiaurov's warm and powerful Russian sound beats anything I've hears recorded to date. Pavarorri, Cossotto and Price carry their parts equally well; supported by a powerful chorus. Sound levels really high where needed so don't start the show with the entree more than a whisper on the volume control.
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on 16 May 2014
I just saw a live performance of the same and was moved beyond words. But to see Leontyne Price and a young Pavarotti deliver powerful and emotional performance, I was deeply moved again.

In the original theatre of its debut, with Karajan carefully mastering each passage and sound, well I'm in heaven.
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on 4 January 2013
The only niggle is that the focus is more on Karajan as he conducts in place of the singers that perform. Leontyne is on fire and it is worth getting. The bonus is the featuring of a young tenor by the name of Pavarotti. He looks like he has a career ahead of him (;-))
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on 6 January 2013
All aspects excellent.

A few phrases in 'libera me' exaggerated by Leontyne Price (her performance with Reiner was more restrained) but otherwise superb.
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on 7 December 2012
I like the cast, young Pavarotti especially, I saw it on Mezzo, a French TV channel.
The price was right for me, and this is why I decided to buy
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on 20 October 2007
This is an example of what happens when the enthusiasm of the director gets in the way of the art. A simple basic rule of filming singers is that the camera stays on the singer all the time they are singing. On this dvd Henri-Georges Clouzot constantly moves the camera off the singers half-way through the phrase. It's distracting and makes it impossible to focus properly on the music. Given that in this instance the singers include at least two of the greatest of the great, it's particularly distressing.
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on 23 April 2014
What a cast, what a performance - can't get any better. Totally brilliant - JUST BUY THIS AND BE AMAZED
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