Verdi: Messa da Requiem

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Verdi
LABELS: LSO Live
WORKS: Messa da Requiem
PERFORMER: Christine Brewer (soprano), Karen Cargill (mezzo-soprano), Stuart Neill (tenor), John Relyea (bass); London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: LSO 0683

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Recorded live at the Barbican in London last January, Colin Davis’s version of the Requiem demonstrates his familiar virtues. He seeks out the inherent drama of the work, and plenty of its workmanlike detail. It’s a more objective account than some, though the wild energy of the Dies irae is real enough.

The soloists are broadly impressive. Christine Brewer’s soprano offers a warm, enveloping tone. Karen Cargill’s mezzo is solid, though lacks an immediacy of expression. Stuart Neill’s hefty tenor shows involvement, though his withdrawal of full tone for such sections as the Hostias is not entirely successful.

Best is John Relyea’s accomplished bass, covering the entire range required with deep engagement. One or two unaccompanied passages for the quartet as a group, though, go out of tune, and there’s not enough diligence with regard to consonants. Nor are the soloists prominent enough in the overall sound-picture, which itself could do with more breadth and spaciousness.

The London Symphony’s amateur chorus offers a more problematic contribution. Its attack is neither invariably secure nor unanimous (the Rex tremendae majestatis, for instance), and tuning occasionally suspect, with a tendency to pitch around the note rather than dead smack in its centre.

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Live recordings can be enormously exciting, but this one also demonstrates what could have been perfected in the studio, yet remains imperfect here. George Hall