2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Old school Verdi - big and brash,
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This review is from: Verdi: Requiem (Audio CD)
The unavailability of this recording has been a source of frustration for fans of the singers featured but here it is finally issued in sound which is slightly edgy up top and a bit indistinct in lower frequencies but very listenable given that it is assembled from live recordings over three days in the Avery Fisher Hall in October 1980 - or perhaps not? Please the conversation between Timothy Carpenter and me under my review of this recording on Amazon.com; what he says is very persuasive and explains the absence of audience noise.
Caballé may be heard in the Barbirolli studio recording twelve years earlier where she is exceptionally ethereal and delicate. Here she is more powerful with somewhat more acidity in her loudest notes but still able to spin her famous "pianissimi con un fil di voce" and her portamenti are delightful. Domingo is much the same as he was for Bernstein ten years earlier - that is, very fine without being especially individual; very good in his falsetto "Hostias". Bass Paul Plishka is commanding and expressive if a little throaty, with good low notes. The surprise for many will be the powerful and very Italianate mezzo-soprano Bianca Berini, a famous Amneris and clearly a singer to be spoken of in the same breath as her more celebrated coeval, Fiorenza Cossotto. Her lower register is a dream: thrilling dark brown velvet. It is good that she is so clearly distinguishable by timbre from Caballé as too many more modern recordings have two female singers whose voices are too similar, often lacking both a proper Verdian mezzo-soprano or a spinto soprano but substituting instead a capable soprano falcon and an artificially pumped up lyric soprano respectively.
Mehta starts off like a rocket but soon settles down to more conventional tempi. He is in full command without having much of interest or novelty to say about the music. Especially impressive is the Musica Sacra Chorus who are really precise and energised. Unusually, individual voices emerge during the choral passages such as the Sanctus as if to suggest that they are a rather smaller group than is normal and are closely miked but their intonation and unanimity are admirable.
From the perspective of thirty years and more on, this is a recording which makes more recent offerings seem like small beer. It has no truck with playing the Requiem as a chamber or devotional work, but is palpably packed with emotion, reeking of supplication. Verdi Requiem aficionados like me will doubtless want it in their collection, no matter how many they already have.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Apr 2013 21:36:52 BDT
Very interesting. This recording got annihilated by the " critics" on its release, but if you give a recording of this work 5 stars it MUST be good indeed. I'm coming round to Mehta- greatly enjoying his Israel Phil Gurrelieder of 2011. I think I'll take a punt. As ever, S.
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2013 23:11:41 BDT
I didn't know that it had been badly received but found myself swept along by it very happily.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 18:35:59 BDT
Caballe got praised, but Mehta, the playing , recording and the woolly Plishka really got savaged- but then we review precisely because of the inadequacy of the so-called " critics" so no surprise that it is in fact excellent. As ever, S.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 19:12:47 BDT
Plishka sounds a lot better by today's standards, Caballe is indeed excellent with the reservation I mention above, Berini is superb, Domingo much as ever and I do acknowledge the fairly dead AFH sound - but it makes more recent efforts such as the Muti or Pappano, despite their excellent recording quality, sound very second rate.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 19:42:02 BDT
You've done it now- you've criticised the Holy Pappano! I couldn't agree with you more about those two. I'll give the Mehta a go! As ever, S.
In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2013 20:59:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Apr 2013 20:59:52 BDT
I like Pappano in a lot of things and have very much enjoyed him live but he doesn't by any means necessarily have access to the singers to do the music justice. I just listened to the Mehta again; to me, so much is just right.
Posted on 14 Oct 2013 10:45:24 BDT
Filippo Secondo (aka AB) says:
I hope the release of this performance will be followed by other long-overdue recordings. I particularly love to hear Caballe's New York 'Gemma di Vergy' (conducted by Queler, and issued by CBS on LP only). I assume the sound (unlike that of Opera d'Oro) is what one expects from a commercial release (anyone know?).
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