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Verdi: Messa da Requiem Limited Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia di Saint Cecilia
  • Conductor: Antonio Pappano
  • Audio CD (7 Sept. 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B002HIEIVK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,508 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Digital Booklet: Verdi: Requiem
Digital Booklet: Verdi: Requiem
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Product Description

Product Description

Following the release of his critically acclaimed recording of Madama Butterfly, Music Director Antonio Pappano returned to the Orchestra and Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in January 2009 for performances of Verdi’s spectacular Requiem with stellar soloists Anja Harteros, Sonia Ganassi, Rolando Villazón and René Pape. Pappano brings out the extremes of dynamics in the orchestral, solo and chorus parts.

BBC Review

Verdi’s Messa da Requiem must be one of the greatest classical works of all time, so a new recording, conducted by such an artist as Antonio Pappano, was always going to attract attention. This deserves attention, too; it’s a gargantuan, extraordinary performance, given by an extraordinary musical cast.

Verdi wrote his requiem in response to the deaths of two of Italy’s greatest artistic figures, the composer Gioacchino Rossini and the nationalist poet Alessandro Manzoni. In 1868, Verdi proposed that Italy’s leading composers collaborate to produce a requiem in honour of Rossini. He wrote a “Libera Me”, but the rest of the work never materialised. Five years later, Manzoni died. This time Verdi followed the adage that, if you want a job done properly, you should do it yourself, and worked his earlier “Libera Me” into a full-scale requiem. The work, premiered in 1874, is of such dramatic force, encompassing every extreme of emotion, that the effect is almost overpowering. Even so, it isn’t so much Verdi the angst-ridden Catholic (he was in fact a spiritual agnostic), as Verdi the opera composer, and at the time he was criticised for essentially writing an opera in disguise.

Antonio Pappano, with his Italian heritage and operatic career, quite obviously has this music coursing through his veins. Recorded in concert, it catapults the listener into the concert hall with its energetic force and surging rhythms. The dramatic contrasts are magnificently worked, from the tender, subdued opening “Requiem” movement, to a “Dies Irae” of such fiery rage that it knocks (and scares) ones metaphorical socks off. The textural and dynamic contrasts in the “Rex Tremedae” are stirringly delivered, building to a climax that makes you hair stand on end. Verdi’s writing demands soloists with power across their whole vocal range, and all four deliver on this front making it impossible to single out individuals for praise. They’ve also been perfectly matched with each other, blending beautifully as a quartet. The choral singing is equally as full-blooded, well blended, and brilliantly articulated.

What more can one say? Without a doubt, this will prove to be a seminal recording. --Charlotte Gardner

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Readers coming to these Amazon reviews of this performance must bear in mind that all those reviewers who have given this performance less than 5 stars are looking and listening to this work from an operatic soloist perspective. However this work is primarily a CHORAL / ORCHESTRAL work written by an opera composer. What stands out in this performance is the voice blend in the quartet singing, the fantastically precise chorus and the magnificent orchestral playing WITH very fine soloists, who each one in his or her own right conveys both real emotion as well as a real dramatic portrayal of death and reverence i.e. the overall meaning of this work. The voice blend in all ensembles together with the symbiotic relationship between the chorus, orchestra, and soloists create an EXCEPTIONALLY organic and seemless flowing reverential and dramatic whole, making this performace very special and one of the very best of all times to date. The soloists punctuate brilliantly this emotional ensemble fabric like stars in a deep blue-black night sky. The solo quartet is better than most other recorded versions. Soprano Anja Harteros' "Libera me" is equal to Leontyne Price's performance in the Fritz Reiner recording. Her voice is not a big as Price's but it's big enough and extremely lovely and very luminous in the Agnus Dei. The Recordare duet with Sonia Ganassi is stunning, and emotionally very expressive indeed. René Pape is outstanding, and Rolando Villazon is more than adequate if not ravishing like Harteros. This performance is unsurpassed for its total ensemble effect, of great emotional expressiveness creating a whole of wide dynamic range, that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Those reviewers who are intent on dissecting the parts tear up the fabric, which is precisely what makes this performance a miraculous achievement.
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If you knew no other recording of the Verdi "Requiem", this one would be more than satisfactory; indeed it is very fine indeed. The sound is spectacular, the orchestral playing superb, the choral singing by turns nuanced and powerful - really expressive - and Pappano's direction mostly unerring. One might quibble about details such as the over-emphatic staccati he applies to "ne absorbeat eas" in the "Offertorio" or a slight lack of "lift" in "quam olim Abrahae" in that same movement - indeed it is only there that I experience some minor disappointment, being used to more impetus and the kind of swagger you get from Bernstein - but by and large tempi and phrasing are admirably judged. My main reservations come with the soloists: each is undoubtedly fine but equally each is definitely surpassed elsewhere and none has a very identifiable vocal personality - Harteros and Ganassi sound very similar, for example and that is mainly because Ganassi is not a true Verdi mezzo; both voices lack the necessary lower register weight and Harteros cannot float and expand a note the way Leontyne Price or Martina Arroyo could. There is also a little edge to Harteros' soprano where more Verdian warmth is required. Pape is suitably black-browed but again, the top of his voice does not bloom and there is a dryness and lack of Italianate bite which a bass such as Siepi evinced in his several recordings. It is good to hear Villazon back in good voice and he gives a really sensitive, beautifully shaded account of his two big "arias" (shall we call them!), but he is no Bjorling or Bergonzi and there is a lack of gleam in his husky tone.Read more ›
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This review is not for experts, for if you are like me, and you like your music to pull at the heartstrings and to to shake you back into the real world, this is for you. Do not turn up the volume at the beginning, for the first few bars are so quiet you can hardly hear them. But then comes the shock, the thrill and the excitement as Verdi's most famous and important work gets into its stride.

It takes an Italian conductor and an Italian Orchestra and choir to draw from this serious music sounds which touch every nerve and even to send shivers up your spine. It is destined, the critics say, to become the 'top model' of this Mass for the years to come, and if, like me, you want to reach into your soul to discover feelings you did not know you had, just listen.

Read the booklet to know why Verdi wrote it and how it is that these musicians are the tops when it comes to interpreting serious music to folk like you and me, as well as to serious music lovers. And the more you listen, the more you will hear and understand.
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By M. Joyce TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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