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REQUIEM

By Giuseppe Verdi

VIDEO: Leontyne Price, Fiorenza Cossotto, Luciano Pavarotti, Nicolai Ghiaurov, von Karajan conducting; PGD 072 242 (L)


The Verdi Requiem is an intense work that deserves to be heard in two or three different interpretations [G.R.]

AUDIO: A) CETRA -- LP only (I recall this may have come out on a ?CETRA? CD issue, but can't seem to locate info on it): Renata Tebaldi, Nell Rankin, Giacinto Prandelli, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, De Sabata conducting ("live," La Scala, 1951); priceless document of a tremendously profound and absorbing evening at La Scala; the best conducted of all, with both orchestra and chorus (dir. V. Veneziani) well in hand; sterling vocalism from the soloists with the exception of basso Rossi-Lemeni--who doesn't detract that much; more than adequate mono, though better sound quality available elsewhere [G.R.]

B) PEARL / PHONOGRAPHIE / ARKADIA / OPERA: Maria Caniglia, Ebe Stignani, Beniamino Gigli, Ezio Pinza, Serafin conducting; a more solid and consistent quartet of soloists than in A with somewhat less scrupulous musical preparation under Serafin's warm, full-hearted leadership; fortunately, his natural rapport with both the music and his equally dedicated vocalists makes this triumph of spirit over the letter work just as well as A--and the unfailing opulence of the voices is a definite plus; caveats: 1) only fair mono sound from 1939, 2) the choral numbers (dir. G. Conca) come off somewhat muted and tentative (This performance was available on DUTTON LABS -- now out of print, but if you can find it, probably the best pressing) [G.R.]

C) EMI: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Nicolai Gedda, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Giulini conducting; the finest performance available in full modern sound (1964); a vivid and affectionate interpretation from Giulini, with scrupulous musicianship from all the soloists, though tenor Gedda is occasionally effortful; Wilhelm Pitz's choral leadership is exemplary; a carefully and thoroughly prepared achievement from all; stereo [G.R.]

D) RCA: Herva Nelli, Fedora Barbieri, Giuseppe Di Stefano, Cesare Siepi, Toscanini conducting ("live," Carnegie Hall, 1951); a top favorite for many, this is as scrupulously prepared as C with more consistent singing; Toscanini's firm baton yields tremendous drama in the apocalyptic choral moments (the Robert Shaw Chorale, no less, doesn't hurt), though I do not find the overall effect of this recording quite so moving or engaging as some others; still, as the most intense and theatrical interpretation available, it deserves its special niche; excellent mono [G.R.]

E) TELARC: Susan Dunn, Diane Curry, Jerry Hadley, Paul Plishka, Robert Shaw as conductor and chorus- master (1987); one of the most scrupulously proportioned readings with unsurpassed inner feeling; good sound quality brings out Shaw's easy mastery of texture and the staggering vocal panorama of the choral writing; women (Dunn/Curry) are superb, men (Hadley/Plishka) less so--Plishka's occasional tonal clash with the others in ensemble is the main reason for not placing this one much higher; still an unforgettable listening experience; stereo [G.R.]

F) MELODRAM (?): Gwyneth Jones, Grace Bumbry, Franco Corelli, Ezio Flagello, Mehta conducting; impassioned, committed music-making by a quartet of extraordinary voices; "live," fair sound only; Mehta not on a level with his colleagues, but a special memento of both Jones and Corelli at their vocal, musical best, 1967 [G.R.]

G) ENTERPRISE / LEGATO: Maria Caniglia, Ebe Stignani, Beniamino Gigli, Tancredi Pasero, De Sabata conducting -- TWO DIFFERENT SETS OF EXCERPTS of live performances using the same solo forces, but different orchestras and choruses -- the ENTERPRISE from 12/12/40 and the LEGATO from 12/14/40 (as filler to a 1938 Toscanini performance with Milanov, Castagna, Bjoerling and Moscona). I have only heard the excerpts from 12/14 (the LEGATO): even though the sound is only fair, these extracts are spellbinding; they combine De Sabata's later ('51, A) wholeness of outlook with the vocal standards of the Serafin ('39, B); after all, these excerpts use three of Serafin's four vocalists -- and, though Pasero is not quite Pinza's equal, he is certainly as commanding and as musical as his colleagues at least; these tantalizing fragments suggest an ideal as close to perfection as is possible in an imperfect world; Mono [G.R.]


FOR FURTHER READING:

Check out this Verdi Requiem Site. The site is dedicated to Verdi's Requiem. It includes The requiem's text in Latin and English, historical background to the Requiem, musical analysis and some RealAudio excerpts from the Requiem.

Verdi, Requiem (Cambridge Music Handbooks), by David Rosen

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