Suppé: Requiem

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LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Requiem
PERFORMER: Elizabete Matos (soprano), Mirjam Kalin (contralto), Aquiles Machado (tenor), Luis Rodrigues (bass); Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Chorus & Orchestra, Lisbon/Michel Corboz
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45570 2
If Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle was, as he claimed, the last mortal sin of his old age, Franz von Suppé proffered no such geriatric apology for his Requiem. Not that he could, mind you, having written it at the age of 36, but it is as sun-drenched and Italianate a Requiem as you might hope to hear, and one which deserves a much wider circulation than it currently gets. Resounding with echoes of Donizetti and Mozart, it also occupies the same operatic niche as Verdi’s later setting of the same text. Despite the patches of rather good fugue, the overall tone is unashamedly that of grand opera, with a thunder-and-lightning ‘Dies irae’ and a ‘Recordare’ which propels the tenor (Aquiles Machado) downstage into the spotlight, as if to serenade the merciful Jesus. The ‘Hostias’ is given to the bass (Luis Rodrigues), with searing string melodies weaving around a beautiful cantabile line, here very impressively performed. The chorus is there to provide the dramatic backbone, and it rises magnificently to the task. The recording is live, with all the ready energy that that brings, and any rough edges are smoothed away by the warm-blooded commitment demonstrated by all. A winning recording of a hugely likeable work. William Whitehead