LABELS: RCA Gold Seal
PERFORMER: Leontyne Price (soprano), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Veriano Luchetti (tenor), José Van Dam (bass); Chicago Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Georg Solti
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61403 2 ADD
Verdi’s Requiem is as dramatic and as full of good tunes as any of his operas, but it is, after all, a sacred work, even if composed by an agnostic. In this 1977 recording, Georg Solti (who ten years earlier had conducted an even more high-powered performance for Decca) emphasises the theatrical aspects of the work at the expense of the more spiritual qualities to be found in the score.
The Chicago chorus and orchestra respond with great enthusiasm to Solti’s extrovert approach. The balance is to some extent redressed by the soloists, with Janet Baker especially affecting in her duets with the glorious Leontyne Price, especially in the ‘Recordare’. It is for Price’s radiant singing here and in the final ‘Libera me’ that this performance is most to be admired. Veriano Luchetti is a mundane tenor soloist, and that usually impressive bass José Van Dam makes disappointingly little of his solos.
There are several preferable versions of the Requiem, and most of them manage on two CDs to find room for another work, usually Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces,a most suitable coupling. These two discs offering the Requiem alone are not good value. Charles Osborne