An inspiring performance by the master of Berlioz interpretation,
This review is from: Berlioz: Grande Messe des Morts (Audio CD)
I first heard this performance live on Radio 3, entirely by accident while I was working in Spain. I had picked up BBC radio through the hotel Wi-Fi on my iPod in the hope of hearing something nice before going down to dinner. I came in during the Dies Irae and was absolutely captivated by the drama of the performance, which was amazingly sure footed in the massive acoustic of what I subsequently discovered was St. Paul's Cathedral. Dinner was late.
Sir Colin Davis demonstrates that a lifetime of immersion in Berlioz has made him truly a master interpreter of that curious man's work. What a great loss to music was his death only two months after recording this work and how grateful am I that he lived long enough to direct this stunning performance of Berlioz's massive requiem.
The huge orchestral and vocal forces are exquisitely handled in the reverberant acoustic of the cathedral with a skill that must be something like handling a Formula 1 car and a supertanker at the same time. You are aware that at any moment it could all go horribly wrong, but it all works perfectly. This is a live performance (in fact, an amalgam of two, recorded on consecutive days) and has all the immediacy you would expect from that, but with the benefit of great sound engineering and a very considerate audience.
If you want to feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, listen out for the brushed cymbals in the Sanctus. Pure magic!