Verdi: Messa da Requiem

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Messa da Requiem
PERFORMER: Carol Vaness, Florence Quivar, Dennis O’Neill, Carlo Colombara / Bavarian RSO & Chorus/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 60902-2 DDD
When I last counted, there were 19 performances of Verdi’s Requiem on CD, at least seven of which (conducted by Abbado, Bernstein, Giulini, Karajan, Robert Shaw, Solti and Toscanini) are highly desirable. The Bavarian Radio Orchestra and Chorus under Colin Davis fail to offer strong competition to any of these. There is an insufficient sense of urgency in, for example, the ‘Rex tremendae majestatis’ and the usually overwhelming ‘Dies Irae’. Davis is at his most sympathetic in the gentler passages, but his chorus cannot match the incandescent lightness of the Philharmonia Chorus for Giulini on EMI.

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Carol Vaness is now one of today’s finest exponents of middle- and late-period Verdi, so it is no surprise that the beauty and warmth of her voice should be heard to such fine effect in the Requiem. Florence Quivar is a more than adequate mezzo-soprano soloist, and tenor Dennis O’Neill makes an excellent contribution, though I thought him hampered somewhat by the lax tempo set in his ‘Ingemisco’ solo. Carlo Colombara, the young Italian bass, is agreeably direct in voice and style. The playing time of these two discs is distinctly ungenerous. Some two-disc sets of the Requiem, among them my recommendation, Giulini and the Philharmonia, manage comfortably to include the Four Sacred Pieces as well. Charles Osborne