LABELS: EMI Double Forte
PERFORMER: Renata Scotto (soprano), Agnes Baltsa (mezzo-soprano), Veriano Luchetti (tenor), Evgeny Nesterenko (bass); Ambrosian Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 68613 2 ADD/DDD Reissue (1979, 1982)
Muti’s recording of the Verdi encompasses a vast dynamic range and brings the work’s disparate elements into a unified focus. Throughout, his interpretation strikes one as idiomatic, his soloists equally so. Renata Scotto may lose quality at the top of her range, but there is no gainsaying the personal involvement of her singing. Agnes Baltsa is a full-bodied mezzo, Veriano Luchetti a high quality tenor and Evgeny Nesterenko’s dark bass consistently impressive.
The substantial filler is the Requiem in C minor (1816) by Cherubini. Admired by Beethoven and Schumann, it’s a piece whose austerity hides a restrained, inner passion, and this performance gives it due solemnity and discipline.
From a wide range of recordings of the Verdi to choose from, Muti’s is a leading contender, but if you can bear the brash sound Toscanini’s live account from 1951 remains a thrilling experience. George Hall