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4.5 out of 5 stars27
4.5 out of 5 stars
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 September 2009
If you knew no other recording of the Verdi "Requiem", this one would be more than satisfactory; indeed it is very fine indeed. The sound is spectacular, the orchestral playing superb, the choral singing by turns nuanced and powerful - really expressive - and Pappano's direction mostly unerring. One might quibble about details such as the over-emphatic staccati he applies to "ne absorbeat eas" in the "Offertorio" or a slight lack of "lift" in "quam olim Abrahae" in that same movement - indeed it is only there that I experience some minor disappointment, being used to more impetus and the kind of swagger you get from Bernstein - but by and large tempi and phrasing are admirably judged. My main reservations come with the soloists: each is undoubtedly fine but equally each is definitely surpassed elsewhere and none has a very identifiable vocal personality - Harteros and Ganassi sound very similar, for example and that is mainly because Ganassi is not a true Verdi mezzo; both voices lack the necessary lower register weight and Harteros cannot float and expand a note the way Leontyne Price or Martina Arroyo could. There is also a little edge to Harteros' soprano where more Verdian warmth is required. Pape is suitably black-browed but again, the top of his voice does not bloom and there is a dryness and lack of Italianate bite which a bass such as Siepi evinced in his several recordings. It is good to hear Villazon back in good voice and he gives a really sensitive, beautifully shaded account of his two big "arias" (shall we call them!), but he is no Bjorling or Bergonzi and there is a lack of gleam in his husky tone.

This is still a very fine account and will give much pleasure; there are almost none of the lapses in intonation so common in recordings of this wonderful music - especially in live ones, such as this - and so much here is right. It's not so much what is wrong, as what is missing that causes me to knock off a star in my rating. I can imagine other listeners being wholly satisfied with this excellent EMI recording and perhaps I am being too fussy, but as a self-confessed Verdi "Requiem" nut and a voice fancier who owns dozens of different recordings, I am fairly sure that there are at least half a dozen which I might prefer to listen to before this one.
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on 11 October 2009
This review is not for experts, for if you are like me, and you like your music to pull at the heartstrings and to to shake you back into the real world, this is for you. Do not turn up the volume at the beginning, for the first few bars are so quiet you can hardly hear them. But then comes the shock, the thrill and the excitement as Verdi's most famous and important work gets into its stride.

It takes an Italian conductor and an Italian Orchestra and choir to draw from this serious music sounds which touch every nerve and even to send shivers up your spine. It is destined, the critics say, to become the 'top model' of this Mass for the years to come, and if, like me, you want to reach into your soul to discover feelings you did not know you had, just listen.

Read the booklet to know why Verdi wrote it and how it is that these musicians are the tops when it comes to interpreting serious music to folk like you and me, as well as to serious music lovers. And the more you listen, the more you will hear and understand.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 February 2013
Readers coming to these Amazon reviews of this performance must bear in mind that all those reviewers who have given this performance less than 5 stars are looking and listening to this work from an operatic soloist perspective. However this work is primarily a CHORAL / ORCHESTRAL work written by an opera composer. What stands out in this performance is the voice blend in the quartet singing, the fantastically precise chorus and the magnificent orchestral playing WITH very fine soloists, who each one in his or her own right conveys both real emotion as well as a real dramatic portrayal of death and reverence i.e. the overall meaning of this work. The voice blend in all ensembles together with the symbiotic relationship between the chorus, orchestra, and soloists create an EXCEPTIONALLY organic and seemless flowing reverential and dramatic whole, making this performace very special and one of the very best of all times to date. The soloists punctuate brilliantly this emotional ensemble fabric like stars in a deep blue-black night sky. The solo quartet is better than most other recorded versions. Soprano Anja Harteros' "Libera me" is equal to Leontyne Price's performance in the Fritz Reiner recording. Her voice is not a big as Price's but it's big enough and extremely lovely and very luminous in the Agnus Dei. The Recordare duet with Sonia Ganassi is stunning, and emotionally very expressive indeed. René Pape is outstanding, and Rolando Villazon is more than adequate if not ravishing like Harteros. This performance is unsurpassed for its total ensemble effect, of great emotional expressiveness creating a whole of wide dynamic range, that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Those reviewers who are intent on dissecting the parts tear up the fabric, which is precisely what makes this performance a miraculous achievement.
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on 25 October 2015
I'll be honest and say I don't know a lot about classical music. We sang this in school, and I bought this recording because we sang this in school, and I wanted to bring back a few memories.

It's a good recording, The sound is clear, and the music is presented clearly. If you wanted a good recording of this sort of music, this'll suit you just fine.
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On the basis of overwhelmingly positive reviews in the musical press and knowing his admiration of the tenor Rolando Villazón, I bought this Verdi Requiem as a present for my father-in-law a couple of years ago and it's only recently that I've got round to borrowing it and giving it "the once over".

I have to say that it's as good a modern recording of the work as I have heard, even if in my opinion it falls short of the classic recordings of the 60s and 70s.

Antonio Pappano shows a natural empathy for the music and the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia play with impressive energy and force. The playing has appropriate musical vigour and impetus with its surging rhythms and dramatic contrasts; the "Dies Irae" section is especially fine. By the same token, the choral singing is as good as any on record.

What prevents me from awarding this version a fifth star is the soloists; it's not that they are bad...far from it...but they do not really measure up to some of their great predecessors on previous recordings. They blend well as a quartet, but as individuals they do not have any special charisma, not even the only one of them who might claim "superstar" status, Rolando Villazón. His performance is very much a "curate's egg"; at times his tone is rather husky and he is inclined to swoop, while elsewhere he sings with impressive conviction and sensitivity, especially in the quieter passages. The "Ingemisco" goes particularly well. René Pape has one of the most beautiful bass voices of his generation, but I find his singing here little more than dutiful and he lacks Italianate bite. The same is true of the soprano and mezzo soprano soloists, Anja Harteros and Sonia Ganassi, who both sing very well indeed, but lack Verdian "grit" at the bottom of their ranges.

Newcomers to the work would not be disappointed by this recording, but I still prefer the old Giulini version, while my wife inclines towards the Solti with its all-star, if rather exotic, solo quartet. The recording of this disc, made "live" in January 2009, boasts spectacular sound and has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of a live recording.
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on 29 September 2009
I would strongly reccomed to buy it, not only because I went twice to the concert hall last january in Rome to attend the concert live (that was really amazing), but also because from my point of view is a great performance.

Since the beginning you can easily appreciate the beautiful start of Requiem and Dies Irae. In the Tuba Mirum, Maestro Pappano put the offstage trumpets just opposite the stage at the very top of the concert hall near some of the audience. This had created a particular effect between the trumpets on stage and those offstage, that I've never heard before. It seemed that you were able to listen some music in a sort of three-dimensional way.

The Orchestra and the Chorus followed their conductor in such a good way that they were able to achieve their maximum giving the 101%. (Last year the Orchestra celebrated their 100 years of activity and the Title of the celebration itself was "100 and 101" meaning 100 players plus one conductor)
The singers to the rest. I cannot mention all the tracks... but listen to the Ingemisco or appreciate the Libera me, which conclude the play.

From my point of view it was a pity that EMI has not decided to insert the big applause and ovation at the end. It could have helped to understand what was the audience idea of that concert. I tell this because I have some EMI cds of Maestro Celibidache, where with the applause at the end you feel like you were in the concert hall.

Anyway, waste no time. Buy and listen this wonderful cd!

Lorenzo

As you might already know this cd has won the 2010 BBC music awards...this probably means that I was right to consider this cd a wonderful one...
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on 29 September 2009
My title for this review pretty well sums up my view of this performance. I agree with other reviewers that there is much to enjoy here - the performance begins gently with a well-paced Introit, but the Kyrie is underpowered, lacking both drama and passion. The trumpet fanfares that introduce the tuba mirum lack bite and the Libera Me lacks fire or any real sense of the drama of the Last Judgement; you need a bit of religious passion here but the soprano sounds too agnostic, as if she doesn't quite believe what she's singing. I feel the same about Villazon too. A little throaty at the start, he gets better, but never quite convinces. Compare this recording to Abbado's with the Berlin Phil and from the outset you can hear the difference - even Alagna, whose voice I usually find too thin for Verdi, has more conviction; he sings as If he means it; Villazon doesn't. Abbado is passionate, intense - he builds the tension phrase by phrase; Pappano, usually so engaging, doesn't. Somehow this feels like a Requiem that might have been. If you want a modern performance of this work try Abbado, or for more traditional schmalz, Bernstein.
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on 4 June 2014
Wonderful value for money. The best version of this work I have heard on disk. The free MP3 and Cloud storage are real plus points.
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on 13 July 2014
This is the most powerful CD performance I possess. I can't analyse it but it is incredible moving. However many Verdi Requiems you have - be sure to get this one too!
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on 13 November 2015
Thank you Ian - fine recording - as recommended on bbc 3 cd review
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