Verdi: Messa da Requiem

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Messa da Requiem
PERFORMER: Luba Orgonásová (soprano), Anke Vondung (mezzo), Alfred Kim (tenor), Carlo Colombara (bass); Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart; SWR Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart/Helmuth Rilling


Helmuth Rilling’s approach to this choral masterpiece is considered. He is clearly aware of Verdi’s references to his ecclesiastical predecessors and the use of traditional motifs associated with grief, while skilfully negotiating the work’s trickier rhythmic moments. He takes due care of expression marks and shows a finely gradated approach to dynamics. The singing from the Stuttgart choir is neat and accurate.

Yet the music-making is solid rather than stirring, and sometimes seems heavy on its feet. Control becomes containment (as in the Dies Irae) and at times one can almost see the workings of Verdi’s grand machine. The piece loses some of its elemental power, its combination of pity with terror.

The soloists, too, are a mixed quantity, not helped by their being subsumed with the overall sound picture rather than standing proud of it. Best is Luba Orgoná≥ová’s fluid soprano. Mezzo Anke Vondung starts prosaically, then kicks into life later on. Tenor Alfred Kim is bright-toned but small-scale. Bass Carlo Colombara is appropriately heavyweight though occasionally unsteady. Generally, a little more heft would not go amiss. 


Many classic alternative accounts are available, with Giulini and Muti highflyers in that particular field. Of recent versions, Pappano and his Santa Cecilia forces is head and shoulders above the rest. George Hall