Verdi: Requiem

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Profil
WORKS: Requiem
PERFORMER: Violeta Urmana (soprano), Olga Borodina (mezzo-soprano), Ramón Vargas (tenor), Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass); NDR Choir, Hamburg; Teatro Regio Chorus; WDR Radio Choir and SO/Semyon Bychkov


Verdi’s most significant liturgical work is here performed by four soloists well-versed in his operas and with voices to match. Soprano Violeta Urmana’s tone still possesses some of the mezzo colouring of her former career but she’s at the top of her game. Mezzo Olga Borodina, as in her previous recording (under Gergiev), is on commanding form. Tenor Ramón Vargas’s vibrancy and immediacy of expression are major assets. Less immaculate, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto’s contribution has character and heft but there’s an occasional sense of effort and the odd rhythmic imprecision. That last fault is the only demerit of the large chorus, which otherwise covers a full range of tone, but they are sometimes a fraction behind Semyon Bychkov’s beat. His Cologne orchestra responds to him with absolute precision. Bychkov’s idiomatic interpretation flows well, never freezing up, as some do, in the slowest passages. He also avoids false theatrics, finding instead an inner vitality that motivates the Sanctus with energy. The recording encompasses the huge breadth of sound required, but is not always ideally clear. Of recent competition, Gergiev’s otherwise excellent version was compromised by its tenor, Andrea Bocelli. Of classic editions, both Toscanini and De Sabata are thrilling, though sound is a problem. Best overall is Giulini’s, which combines interpretational authority with high-grade sound. George Hall