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Solti: Verdi – Requiem (2 CD, APE)

Solti: Verdi - Requiem (2 CD, APE)
Solti: Verdi - Requiem (2 CD, APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 343 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
Performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
with Martti Talvela, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne
Conducted by Georg Solti

Disc 1:
01. Messa da Requiem – 1. Requiem
02. Messa da Requiem – 2. Dies irae
03. Messa da Requiem – 2. Tuba mirum
04. Messa da Requiem – 2. Liber scriptus
05. Messa da Requiem – 2. Quid sum miser
06. Messa da Requiem – 2. Rex tremendae
07. Messa da Requiem – 2. Recordare
08. Messa da Requiem – 2. Ingemisco
09. Messa da Requiem – 2. Confutatis
10. Messa da Requiem – 2. Lacrymosa

Disc 2:
01. Messa da Requiem – Offertorium: Domine, Jesu Christe
02. Messa da Requiem – Offertorium: Hostias
03. Messa da Requiem – 4. Sanctus
04. Messa da Requiem – 5. Agnus Dei
05. Messa da Requiem – 6. Lux aeterna
06. Messa da Requiem – Libera me: Libera me
07. Messa da Requiem – Libera me: Dies irae
08. Messa da Requiem – Libera me: Requiem aeternam
09. Messa da Requiem – Libera me: Libera me

Sonic spectacular

I’m a big fan of Joan Sutherland, so I really went out of my way to get this. Yes, 84 minutes on two full-price discs is not exactly a collector’s bargain, but like I said, I had a different incentive for getting this.

Verdi Requiem sopranos are usually the Aida/Forza type. Not too often do you get the Gilda/La Traviata type. So it’s a fascinating experience to hear a top coloratura like Sutherland in this choral warhorse. I found Sutherland’s Requiem very enjoyable – I simply love the sound of her voice. While many fault her diction, I had no trouble with it (I understood her all throughout Libera Me). Also, it’s neat to finally hear an actual trill in Hostias.

Listeners familiar with Georg Solti’s Ring cycle will be well acquainted with his reputation for well-engineered sound. This Verdi Requiem was recorded in October 1967, yet even by today’s standards, it is a sonic spectacular. Listen especially to the choral highlights like the opening of the Dies Irae, the Sanctus, and the final Libera Me fugue. Like the Ring cycle, the brass appear to have the best microphones of anyone in the orchestra. Audiophiles testing new speakers will have plenty of material to use in this album. And the bass drum in Dies Irae sounds more like an explosion than a musical instrument – very cool!

If you did not hear Luciano Pavarotti in Karajan’s 1967 Verdi Requiem, here is your chance to hear him now. For me, this is one of my all-time favorite renditions of Ingemisco. I also like how he uses a soft voice rather that a head voice in Hostias.

Listeners may be aware that the Vienna State Opera Chorus and Vienna Philharmonic recorded the Verdi Requiem in November 1991 with Claudio Abbado, a wonderful recording in its own right. Fans of the Abbado disc, however, will not be disappointed with this much earlier 1967 collaboration. The Vienna State Opera is a very powerful chorus and can almost knock you off your feet when they come at you at full volume. And the Vienna Philharmonic proves that its status as one of the world’s great ensembles is hardly a recent honor.

Overall, I liked all four soloists. BUT…Marilyn Horne tends to take a lot of liberties with her pronunciations (eleison is eh-leh-ee-sawn instead of sohn, for example), and her unison duet with Sutherland at the beginning of Agnus Dei really sounds a bit out of tune. I love Martti Talvela, but he seemed to be trying too hard in Confutatis (he practically sledgehammers “Voca me” and it’s not pleasant to hear).

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