5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good recording, but not quite definitive,
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This review is from: Verdi: Messa da Requiem (Audio CD)
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.