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on 24 September 2013
Among other Requiems, Verdi's composition has always seemed like a sort of noisemaker. Interpretations have tended to display the work's extrovert nature, sometimes to the point of vulgarity. Daniel Barenboim's previous recording of this work, with the Chicago Symphony, was a true exemplar of this tradition, with blaring brass and definite extrovert nature.

From the first bars of this new La Scala disc, we hear a big difference. There's actually tenderness to Barenboim's phrasing, which builds with natural emotion that is quite moving. We notice how fresh and clear the choir sounds, caught in very good sound. Things get even better when the soloists enter. Jonas Kaufmann is full of passion and commitment that should make a casual listener stop and take note. He goes on to deliver an Ingemisco that is heartbreaking and virtually beyond compare. The rest of the soloists, Anja Harteros, Elina Garanca, and Rene Pape, are also top of the line. Listening to the quartet is the kind of vocal experience that is rare these days. I can't over-stress the conviction and sincerity each singer displays, though it's clear that Kaufmann represents the very height.

Moving through the work, we realize just how many layers of varied emotion are waiting to be uncovered. By removing the usual hysterical style, we no longer feel exhausted by over an hour of choral frenzy. Instead we witness just how much beauty and grief are in the work. I feel we are actually listening to a requiem, which is a true compliment. That's not to say that the excitement has been drained. It's simply that instead of making impact through volume and power, Barenboim makes his point by moving with a feeling of near-spontaneity that deftly maneuvers through the tosses and turns with hushed expectation. If anything, the experience is more intense, actually. There's none of the self-consciousness or gaudy phrasing that can afflict Barenboim.

In all, here is a recording that combines the height of vocal powers with conducting that makes the score sound fresh and altogether new. It's hard to countenance higher praise.
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on 16 October 2013
With Harteros and Kaufmann amongst a stellar cast of soloists, and a chorus singing, in it's native tongue, music by a composer that is in its blood, this recording is one of the most exciting, moving and 'operatic' recordings of the requiem that I've heard. I'd never have put Barenboim down as a Verdian but it is a most impressive performance that is well worth hearing / owning, and the recording is atmospheric and dynamic.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 September 2013
I hesitated in deducting one star from my assessment of this live, La Scala recording and would prefer to be able to award four and a half, but in the context of six or seven decades of accounts of this most recorded and grandest of choral works, it isn't quite up there with the very best and I have good reasons for saying so.

In some ways, my reaction to this excellent performance is similar to that to the Pappano recording from 2009 with two of the same soloists, but this one is better, not only because Harteros and Pape surpass their contributions for EMI but also because Garanca is considerably preferable to Ganassi. This version also benefits from a really superb choral contribution which breathes new vigour and expressiveness into the old war-horse. Time and again, Barenboim has them delivering the text with real pointedness without their sounding self-conscious; their first "Requiem" really makes you sit up, especially as they are so well recorded, such that we get fullness of sound but also detail. Everything is in focus, from the bass's whispered "Mors" to the cataclysmic choral outburts in the "Dies Irae".

However, for all that Harteros is fine, she is not, pace one previous reviewer, the equal of the likes of Leontyne Price in her prime; her tone is not absolutely pure and she tends to slide. Thus her "Sed signifer" slides in dreamily but then she spoils the effect with a sloppy A-flat on the ensuing word "sanctus" and her final "Requiem" on another A flat at the end of track 8 is a slight disappointment. She hasn't the amplitude of tone to fill out the great arcing lines; indeed not one of the excellent soloists here is actually Italianate in timbre - especially Kaufmann, an artist I hugely admire, although I am almost persuaded by the tenderness of his delivery in the "Ingemisco" and the "Hostias"; he also has the heft to thrill the listener when he lets rip. Pape is simply not an Italian bass, although he sounds better than I have heard him in a while. There is little saturnine menace or the trenchant, treacly tone we hear from the likes of Siepi, his top notes tend to blare and he has a tendency to pounce on words in an ungainly, Germanic fashion. Garanca is impressive without effacing memories of really Italianate mezzo-sopranos like Cossotto or Dominguez.

Barenboim's conducting is interesting: detailed and measured, bringing out the beauty, tenderness and spiritual profundity of the music without much tension or drive at key places such as the "Quam olim Abrahae". In a sense, this recording is all of a piece in that it doesn't go for a large-scale, extrovert interpretation but emphasises the pathos of the words and music; Kaufmann's delivery epitomises that approach - yet I still want a little more theatricality than we get here.

You won't hear a better modern performance, however, and this is as good as any we have heard for many a year, not least for its superb engineering.
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on 2 August 2014
Phenomenal Kaufmann and Harteros !!!
Barenboim and La Scalas orchestra and choire are better, than ever .Near-perfect perfomance !
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on 6 December 2013
Bought in advance of a concert performance by my choir of this work to get an idea of tempi, dynamics etc. This is a very dramatic rendition by Barenboim and the massed forces of the orchestra and opera chorus of La Scala with wonderful soloists. You can hear every word, and the sheer force of the work comes across; it's more operatic then devotional but still a fabulous interpretation of the piece.
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on 20 March 2017
Arrived quickly. Lovely music. Thank you.
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on 5 January 2014
Verdi Requiem is a favourite choral piece of mine. Operatic and grand in style it never seems to disappoint. And this recording is at its best, classy and top notch casting and all brought together by the maestro of Daniel Barenboim. It is pure joy to listen to.
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on 4 March 2014
This is a great recording of Verdi's. Requiem. I reviewed a few recordings before eventually deciding on this one. Can thoroughly recommend it for quality and price.
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on 2 December 2015
A great and sensitive performance ... wonderful soloists and "perfect" conducting ... is being much enjoyed
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on 24 March 2015
I listen for pleasure, not technical perfection - and this is pure pleasure.
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