Donizetti: Requiem

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COMPOSERS: Donizetti
LABELS: Koch Discover
WORKS: Requiem
PERFORMER: Tiziana K Sojat (soprano), Jaroslava Horska-Maxova (mezzo-soprano), Vittorio Giammarrusco (tenor), Zdenek Hlavka (baritone), Marcel Rosca (bass); Prague Chamber Choir, Virtuosi di Praga/Alexander Rahbari
CATALOGUE NO: DICD 920519
Donizetti’s Requiem, a big, serious-minded work, may come as a surprise to those who think of him only as a purveyor of operatic canary-fodder. It was begun in response to the death of Bellini in 1835 – an event which moved Donizetti, always a generous spirit, in spite of what had been the older composer’s persistently malign attitude to his younger rival. It was never finished, and first performed only in 1870, 22 years after its composer’s death. Certain sections of the Mass Ordinary had not been set before composition was laid aside. Even so, the 15 extant movements make a full, substantial impression – carefully composed and often striking in their placing of euphonious lyricism within sometimes severe formal outlines.

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Of the five solo parts, the tenor and the baritone hold the main interest. Unlike Decca’s recording of 1979, which boasts Pavarotti and a particularly splendid Renato Bruson, Koch’s pair is only modest-voiced; but in terms of choral, orchestral and recording quality, the new disc easily surpasses the old, especially since Rahbari’s flexible approach draws out so much of the music’s appeal. Max Loppert