WORKS: Requiem; Four Sacred Pieces
PERFORMER: Cheryl Studer (soprano), Marjana Lipovsek (mezzo), José Carreras (tenor), Ruggero Raimondi (bass); ; Chorus of the Vienna State Opera, Vienna PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: 435 884-2 DDD
Recorded live at a concert in the large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna in November 1991, this performance of Verdi’s dramatic Requiem is really commanding. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the chorus of the Vienna State Opera respond appropriately to Abbado’s exciting but not over-operatic handling of the work, and the recording is admirably clear.
The soloists are a fine and well-matched quartet. The pronounced beat in Carreras’s voice at his first entrance, in the Kyrie, is less disturbing elsewhere, and his great solo ‘Ingemisco tamquam reus’ is sung with a moving fervour. Ruggero Raimondi’s mellifluous dark bass caresses his phrases beautifully, and Marjana Lipovsek is admirably steady in her duets with Cheryl Studer, whose heartfelt account of the final ‘Libera me’ is highly affecting. My first choice for the Requiem, however, would still be Giulini and the Philharmonia on EMI.
The Quattro pezzi sacri, four later choral pieces composed by Verdi over a period of years, make a most suitable coupling. The curiously haunting Ave Maria with its beautiful shifting harmonies, the deeply expressive Stabat Mater (Verdi’s final composition), the gently attractive Laudi alla Vergine Maria and the sublime Te Deum are all performed with great sensitivity and style. Charles Osborne