149 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intensely musical reading of Verdi's choral masterpiece
Confession time: the Verdi Requiem is my all-time favourite piece. My Desert Island Disc. I own eight or nine recordings of it - the Solti, the Shaw, the Gergiev, the Hickox, the Reiner, the Elliot Gardiner, and Abbado's last recording which boasts the most perfectly balanced vocal quartet of soloists on any recoding - but as an over all experience, this one wins. The...
Published on 29 Oct. 2001 by Marcus Green
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could hardly hear a word
I have both seen and heard this performance and found it very disappointing because of the poor quality of the diction. All the right ingredients were there - big enough orchestra and choir, capable soloists, excellent conductor - but you could only hear half-a-dozen actual words in the whole performance, and those only from the soloists. The choir was made up of...
Published on 18 Nov. 2011 by Celia Villa-Landa
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149 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intensely musical reading of Verdi's choral masterpiece,
Confession time: the Verdi Requiem is my all-time favourite piece. My Desert Island Disc. I own eight or nine recordings of it - the Solti, the Shaw, the Gergiev, the Hickox, the Reiner, the Elliot Gardiner, and Abbado's last recording which boasts the most perfectly balanced vocal quartet of soloists on any recoding - but as an over all experience, this one wins. The fire of Gergiev was dulled by some excessively slow tempi; Abbado hits an extreme or two (fast and slow) but never leaves you bemused by his choices. Reiner is glorious but the recording shows its age, with too many audible edits on CD. Elliot Gardiner gained many fans for the musicality of his reading, but for my money never really let his hair down enough in the big moments. Too controlled. Too English. The climax of this Libera Me created a spine-tingling frisson the like of which I have not had for many a moon. Gheorghiu knocks spots off the melodramatic Flemming for Gergiev; her husband is in an altogether different league from the pitifully undervoiced Bocelli on the same recording. True, I missed some of the orchestral fireworks on the Phillips disc, but here at last is a Requiem I can return to again and again. Everything works, it's as simple as that. Highlights - Alagna's 'Ingemisco'; a perfect 'Lacrymosa'; the whole of the 'Libera Me'. The first time I heard Placido Domingo at Covent Garden, I was simply amazed at how musical his singing was: it wasn't overly clever or emotional, there were no histrionics, it was just perfect. I felt the same way time and again listening to this. And if at times I thought a moment was underplayed (compare Gergiev's ear-splitting climax to the 'Sanctus') in context of the whole performance, it always felt right. Full marks. And many thanks. And just buy the thing - it is the clear front runner in a very crowded field.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Passion!,
Verdi's Requiem is often considered one of the finest Requiems of musical history - and rightly so. The music is just overflowing with passion and beauty; melodies that simply melt the heart, lush and rich harmonies and orchestration to blow your mind. The impact of this particular performance is astonishing. The emotion, passion and brilliance of the music comes across very powerfully, yet the Berliner Philarmonic never stray from correct musical technique. It is a fine achievement.
Angela Gheorghiu is simply beautiful. Her voice is perfect for this work; and by the time the heart rendering melody of the 'Libera me' arrives she simply glides and floats delightfully through the sequential falling thirds. It has to be one of my favourite passages of music.
Abbado has done an excellent work in showing off the beauty of this music to its full. It seemed to me that this recording very much brings out the 'Italianness' of the Requiem although I am not entirely sure if I am explaining myself very well here. Let it just be said that this particular performance is a jem of musicianship.
One of the highlights is the famous 'Dies irae' movement which is truely magnificent. There are few things in the world that can beat listening to a piece of music like this and turning your stereo up really loud to feel each crashing chord pounding through your body (or even better would be a live performance). The violins and piccolos wheel and squeal to great heights before the orchestra plunges uniformly to a new crunching depth. Utterly superb! But it is not just the 'Dies irae' that is brilliant, the entire Requiem is just one piece of beautiful music after another.
The conclusion then? Definitely worth getting. This Requiem is a masterpiece of great quality, rich in passionate melody and beautiful operatic voices. In particular this performance has to be one of the best I've heard. A stirring recording.
130 of 138 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting emorional experience,
By A Customer
For starters, let me state that to my mind, Verdi's Requiem Mass is an extremely difficult work to bring off successfully, not because of any technical difficulties (they are legion: yet Beethoven's Missa Solemnis tops the Requiem in that respect), however the juxtaposition of operatic arias amidst quasi-rennaissance motet writing and the unique Verdi setting of the Day of Judgement poem - as visual as Michaelangelo's Dies Irae fresco - presents an architectural problem - emotion or cold-blooded build-up? Lets take for an example the opening "Requiem aeternam" chorus, where the tune (sung by the soprano in the a-capella section that appears in the very last part, written, incidentaly, some 5 years before the Requiem) is played by the violins, yet the chorus utters the words, sottovoce. What should the conductor do ? Overcharge the violin melody with devotion and passion, and thus lose the sense of direction (as with Gardiner and Giulini) or paint it with large strokes and let us figure for ourselves the "emotional" ingredient (as with Toscanini)? There has to be a balance between head and heart in this piece, and I do think that Abbado achieves precisely that quality, missing from, lets say, 95% of the available versions on record.
Furthermore, I sincerely believe that this particular Requiem needs the ambience of an audience in order to make things happen. Studio versions sound merely studio bound (apart from the Giulini and Gardiner, which also sound a bit manufactured). I have never heard a live version of the Requiem which hadnt some fine ingredient in it. This one is no exception. I have seen and heard a live realy of this particular performance on the 27th of January 2001, and it was a profound and moving experience. Abbado being, supposedly, mortally ill (he looked on TV, alarmingly so, like a skeleton), and conducting his own "requiem", as it were. By the end of the piece, the C-major chords and the muttering of the soprano soloist amidst the chorus 'Libera me Domine de morte aeternum", the camera focused on Abbado, he being unable to dimiss the silence at the very end of the piece, unable to release his hands, he just stood there, weeping and shivering. Then slowly released the tension. The public honoured him by sitting still for some 2 minutes. On the recording, the producer did the most sensible thing by retaining the silence and fading out into oblivion after some 40 seconds.
Apart from all that, let me at once state that I sincerely believe that here is the most perfectly sung and played version availbale. The Berliner Philharmoniker cover themselves with glory. The massive choral forces ammassed here (two Swedish choirs, one Spanish) are simply stupendous. The soloists were (and are) problematic, concering the male voices. The Bass is inadequate, yet he too gets into the spirit of the performance by the "Lacrymosa". Alagna is, well, Alagna, I really dont like the way he sounds today and the lifting-up to notes, a-la Carreras. Yet he phrases most beautifully and is sincere and often very moving. The Mezzo is a find - a truly Italian-sounding voice, with the heft - and sensitivity - required.
People who read my reviews here will already have realized that I am a huge and utterly undiscerning fan of Angela Gheorghiu, The most exciting and individual voice and musical personality currently before the public. Her voice doesnt flinch from the demands she piles on it, on the contrary, it blossoms by the month into a full and warm instrument. She sounds here much, much better than she sounded back in the 1994 Solti La Traviata. In fact, I think she is the most moving soprano soloist on any version. I always thought that for this piece you needed a pure, seamless sound (Margaret Price, Susan Dunn etc) but the dark quality present in Gheorghiu's voice does wonders for the soprano part. She has all those dark colours, yet she is able to float the voice, when needed.
All in all, a riveting experience, by the time those C-major chords will fade into the distance, you will take the first CD and start it all over again....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fine but lacking the last ounce of passion,
Reviewing the recent Pappano release of this great work prompted me to revisit this recording and in many ways I found it to be a similar experience to the new EMI set. In the final analysis, Abbado just fails to allow the music to take off precisely where the greatest performances succeed: that is at key moments such as "Quam olim Abrahae", in the "Offertorio" when the pulse should quicken and a sense of propulsive forward motion needs to take over. Nor is the sound as immediate and rich as the EMI version - although it is still very good. The best thing here by far is Angela Gheorghiu's wholly committed singing of the soprano part; she throws herself with abandon into the desperate pleas for mercy, employing a surprisingly pentrating lower register, colouring words with deep emotion and floating some lovely top notes. She might not actually be a true Verdian spinto, but here she manages to sound like one and her conviction both carries her through and really confirms why Harteros in the Pappano set sounds so anodyne. Alagna, too, is in very much better than I might have predicted; he successfully employs an affecting mezza-voce for the "Hostias" and produces some quasi-heroic sounds with little strain. The weaknesses for me, apart from Abbado's too restrained a manner, are the relatively bland performance of Barcellona, who has a nice voice but a vibrato bordering on a wobble, and the woolly, clumsy bass of Konstaninov, who constitutes the chief defect amongst the soloists, especially if you compare him with predecessors, such as Cesare Siepi, who have real Italiante steel and gleam in their voices. (Rene Pape in Pappano's recording presents a similar problem, although he has a far finer voice.)
Most previous reviewers seem to like this recording more than I do, but one must make allowance for "five-star-mania" and ask if they really are acquainted with other, earlier and (dare I say?) superior performances, going back to Toscanini, De Sabata, Karajan, Bernstein et al.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, yes, but not perfect,
Well I would have to disagree with the previous reviewers. Of course, it's all a matter of personal taste, but I was quite disappointed (having read the first review before I purchased) with this recording. I thought the pace a little slow -- ponderous, even -- at times, especially the "Te decet hymnus" passage. And the soloists, who look so promising on paper, failed to deliver, to my mind. The singers are supposed to serve the music, not the other way around. Having said that, Gheorghiu does hit some beautiful notes. I'm afraid that Daniela Barcellona's voice has a tinny quality, and Roberto Alagna may have been having an off day. Picky of me? Probably, but I expect more of such a line-up.
The orchestra and the chorus, on the other hand, get a big thumbs-up from me! But do try listening to the rather old, but nevertheless superior (to my mind) Solti recording with Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti and Martti Talvela. Some slighly odd vowel sounds from Sutherland, but the whole is decidedly greater than the sum of its parts.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best performance,
very briefly, since the previous reviews have pretty much covered all, just want to say that this is THE version, I've listened to at least three other versions and also own Karajan's and they don't get even close to the emotion, power and perfection of this one. Apart from the performance itself, this is truly one of the greatest masterworks you can ever listen.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engineered perfection,
The reviews above have pretty much covered what I would say about this recording, so I thought I'd add to it the sheer quality of the sound. The engineering is utterly perfect. This was made for the highest quality systems.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great recording,
A well balanced recording of a superb interpretation by Abbado conducting the Berlin Phiharmonic. Angela Gheorghiu and the other soloists give highly committed performances well supported by the Swedish Radio Chorus.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic performance,
There are many performances of the Requiem to choose from and it Is probably worth buying more than one, but this certainly ranks in the top 3. Great conductor and thrilling soloists.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Verdi. What's not to like?,
This review is from: Verdi : Messa di Requiem (MP3 Download)
One of the greatest classical pieces- let alone Requiem Masses- ever made. For me, on a par with Mozart's Req and Beethoven's 9th.
Sadly there aren't enough recordings to be able to compare and know whether it's a truly great one, but in the absence of such, I'm happy.
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