PERFORMER: Carmen Giannattasio (soprano), Veronica Simeoni (mezzo-soprano), Alexander Timchenko (tenor), Carlo Colombara (bass); Mikhailovsky Theatre Chorus; St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD184
Recorded at St Petersburg’s Great Hall, this live performance presents the St Petersburg Philharmonic in its home acoustic. A little enclosed, the sound tends to homogenise the textures, with little separation of the individual strands. The playing is nevertheless finely articulated, strong and fiery in the ‘Dies irae’, the brass expert and thrilling at the ‘Tuba mirum’, and with many other instrumental highlights throughout.
The tone of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Chorus, founded on the legendary quality of sepulchral Russian basses, is impressive if not invariably neat, though the athleticism of the ‘Sanctus’ is never less than respectably healthy. Three of the soloists are Italian. Carmen Giannattasio has a rich soprano voice and shows a clear understanding of her part’s expressive range.
She is well matched by mezzo Veronica Simeoni, and their dueting in the ‘Recordare’ is outstanding. Bass Carlo Colombara matches his Russian choral colleagues in singing that combines grandeur with nobility. The only Russian soloist, tenor Alexander Timchenko shows exceptional delicacy and technical aplomb.
Conductor Yuri Temirkanov’s measured approach lacks the visceral excitement of some of the leading versions, many of them conducted by Italians, but possesses an honesty and integrity of its own. George Hall