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Verdi's Requiem of which I can remember seeing this performance way back when I was about 17 years old in sixty's on telly
back them I was in tears watching the great Giulini conducting this performance and seeing for the first time tears coming his face
he must had so full of emotion.
Fantastic recording well done to you all, and thank you.
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on 4 October 2016
A magnificent DVD. Excellent soloists (the soprano was a tad loud) other soloists were fantastic
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on 15 March 2014
I have always treasured Giulini’s 1964 reading of Verdi’s Manzoni Requiem (with his dream team of soloists: Schwarzkopf – Ludwig – Gedda -- Ghiaurov) and perhaps used it as a subconscious “blueprint” when appreciating other performances, either live or recorded. On DVD, my favorite has been Abbado’s deeply felt and searing 2001 recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker, still in very good sound and more than respectable video. Maazel’s more recent interpretation with the Symphonica Toscanini (2007, see my review) I found disappointing. However, I know that great and complex scores can be performed in many different – and equally convincing – ways. Gustavo Dudamel impressed me with a stunning Dvorak “New World” symphony (Birthday Concert for Pope Benedict, DG DVD, 2007) and his new Mahler Eight (DG DVD, 2012), both attesting to his growing stature as an eminent musician.

The Messa da Requiem was recorded live in the Hollywood Bowl in August 2013. Against all expectations, the audio is very good, hardly blemished by outside noises, perhaps a bit dry and bass-shy for the lack of enclosed hall acoustics, as Mr. John Manning points out in his perceptive review. The video is excellent, too. The LA Philharmonic musicians play exceedingly well and rise to the occasion, as does the splendidly rehearsed Los Angeles Master Chorale. The almost all-Italian quartet of soloists is quite impressive: tenor Vittorio Grigolo shines particularly in the Ingemisco and the Hostias, mezzo Michelle DeYoung and bass Ildebrando D’Arcangelo carry the stage in the Lux aeterna and Libera me Domine, soprano Juliana DiGiacomo once more in the work’s final bars. Altogether one could not wish for better soloists with more pleasing voices, perfectly in tune with the orchestra and choir and with the conductor’s conception of the mass.

As to Maestro Dudamel’s conception, you should listen beforehand to the bonus interview, which is shot through with snippets from the rehearsals. Dudamel was thirty-two years old at the time of this Hollywood Bowl recording. In his remarks on the Missa, he stresses the operatic character of the work, its drama as well as its tender aspects. He conducts without baton, clearly trying to shape the human, choral and instrumental voices with his hands. Already the beginning sections (Requiem, Kyrie) set the tone for his “intimate” reading of the quiet sequences. Then, the Dies Irae explodes in high drama, the Sanctus is dazzling, festive and almost martial in the measured staccato passages, whereas the Agnus Dei is solemn, nearly humble. There is much operatic flavor in this performance, there are brilliant dramatic highpoints with plenty of fire, and, moreover, there is a pervasive aura of consolation that may be missing in other readings: a reassurance for the living that death can be regarded as peace and transition into eternal life. Dudamel does not obliterate the work’s undercurrent of irrevocable loss, pain, despair, and terror in the face of death. But he subdues or even transcends it through hope and – perhaps -- faith. This is a young man’s Requiem, with the occasional smile, the surprising sudden ray of sunshine, and it leaves you, after the final note, not devastated but transported into a sphere of quiet reflection. Warmly recommended as an alternative reading to the prevailing performance tradition.
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on 7 June 2015
Thank you very much!
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on 15 February 2014
As Dudamel states in the informative interview on this disc (cleverly blended with audio excerpts from the Requiem), he considers the work to be operatic and emotional; he knows exactly what he wants from his performers and gets it in spades. Orchestra, chorus and soloists all combine with Dudamel to produce a charged performance full of drama. In general his tempi are broad, but tautly controlled, and his chorus gets off lightly in the tricky double chorus 'Sanctus' where he allows them enough breathing space to articulate the details cleanly.
I have no criticisms of his orchestra, only praise, and find his soloists excellent. All four sing with passion, Vittorio Grigolo being the most visibly demonstrative, and they make a fine quartet. If forced to make a criticism I would have wished Grigolo to have had a little more power in the lower register, but I found his 'Ingemisco' and 'Hostias' most affecting.
On the technical side, despite the reported problems at the live performance, I am also impressed. The pictures are commendably crisp and clean; the Hollywood Bowl is lit conservatively but everything is seen clearly, and the video direction unobtrusively shows us what we need to see.
The audio (I listened to the DTS master surround) is somewhat more difficult to describe. The open-air location provides its own problems, not offering the same reflected reinforcement as a hall. From the beginning and throughout I noticed an atmosphere, which I can only describe with difficulty as a little like a distant waterfall or a constant sigh of wind in trees. This is very low, but it led me to worry that the inevitable coughs etc. would soon intrude. Happily they didn't, and perhaps because I was engrossed in the performance I only noticed one cough in the 'Libera Me' towards the end. Overall the sound struck me as being probably realistic for the location, clear, with excellent dynamic and frequency range but possibly losing a little in the bass due to the lack of hall ambience. I apologise if I sound critical, all in all I thought it excellent with the words articulated clearly, nicely balanced and the offstage trumpets suitably positioned. Just a little more warmth would have given the double basses and bass drum enhanced presence.
I wonder if Dudamel is set to inherit Abbado's mantle; something about his conducting in this work reminded me of the great maestro. He could do worse.
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on 18 December 2013
A superb rendition of a superb work!
Very impressive and elaborated until the last details.
Inspiring and unforgettable. I wish I had been there personally!
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