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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars White-hot, 15 July 2013
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi Requiem (Audio CD)
From the first entry of the chorus, Verdi`s great Requiem comes at the listener with a searing, white-hot intensity on this 1951 recording under the incisive baton of the legendary Toscanini. When the lengthy Dies Irae bursts through the speakers the effect is shattering - or `hair-raising` as the Penguin Guide, quoted on the back cover of this bargain Regis reissue, rightly called it.
Toscanini and Verdi knew each other, and it shows. There`s a `rightness` about this conductor and this composer combined.
The Requiem is an operatic work, rather than an overtly religious one (Verdi was what one could call a spiritual agnostic, I suppose) and to bring out the dramatic aspects of the work, as Toscanini does here, is perfectly justifiable. In fact, any performance or recording of the work which ignored its operatic/dramatic content would be giving short measure.
I can hardly fault the four singers on this sometimes unbearably exciting recording from Carnegie Hall. Herva Nelli - a Toscanini favourite - was in her early forties at the time, and on this evidence was a forceful soprano with a gleaming voice.
The mezzo Fedora Barbieri sings to wonderful effect, as does the ardent Giuseppe di Stefano, who sounds like he`s singing as if his life depended on it.
Cesare Siepe possessed one of the great bass voices of the mid-twentieth century, as one can clearly hear on his contributions.
The Robert Shaw Chorale are as sharply rehearsed as the NBC SO under Toscanini`s remorseless baton (the one he left to Herva Nelli in his will, perhaps?) and the whole 78 minutes are essential for any lover of Verdi, Toscanini, or merely the Requiem.
The sound - along with some early laryngitic interferences courtesy of the NY branch of Coughers Anonymous (who had and have branches everywhere) - is both almost literally stunning and, in more heated passages, off-puttingly `crowded`, as if the orchestra and singers are being heard as a vast `cluster` rather than individual singers making an organic whole. But considering the recording`s age, and the more pertinent fact that it`s from a live concert, nobody could in fairness ask for more. However, I did keep thinking to myself: "Oh, how I wish I`d actually been there!" Now, that must have been something.
Some of the audience surely can`t have got much sleep that night. Toscanini, with Verdi`s help, would have seen to that.

Despite quibbles, highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Intense, 6 Jun. 2013
Marcolorenzo (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Verdi Requiem (Audio CD)
This is a live recording from the Carnegie Hall performance of January 27, 1951. The sound quality is really remarkable for that date and place. There are minimal audience noises. This is a landmark recording; and Toscanni conducts the work with white-hot fire and passion. The superb soloists are Herva Nelli , Fedora Barbieri, Giuseppe di Stefano and Cesare Siepi, with the Robert Shaw Choral. The overall effect is one of searing dramatic force and intensity rather than lyrical warmth. Also see the Toscanni recording of this work with the young Tebaldi, it may have more warmth of presence and lyricism:Toscananini Conducts Verdi: Messa Di Requiem/Te Deum/...
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Verdi Requiem
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