Giuseppe Verdi, Victor de Sabata - Messa da Requiem

Published Saturday 7th October 2006
Giuseppe Verdi, Victor de Sabata - Messa da Requiem
Giuseppe Verdi, Victor de Sabata - Messa da Requiem

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Naxos Historical 811104950

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The origin of Giuseppe Verdi's 'Missa da Requiem' came after the death of Rossini in 1868. Verdi wrote a movement for a commemorative Mass but, four years later and with the Mass still unsung, the composer took his original "Libera Me" and wrote the rest of a Mass in honour of the Italian patriot Alessandro Manzoni. Contemporary critics described it as a "monumental opera in seven acts" and it is indeed a dramatic and moving work with a raw and sometimes terrifying edge to it. The recording on this budget-priced double CD is one of the few made by the great Italian conductor Victor de Sabata (1892-1967). The opening "Requiem Aeternam" is not encouraging with the Orchestra of La Scala sounding rather distant. However once the soloists step up to the microphone the picture changes. I imagine that the recording from June 1954 used just one microphone for the orchestra, saving the rest for the soloists who are Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Oralia Dominguez (mezzo-soprano), Giuseppe Di Stefano (tenor) and Cesare Siepi (bass). Opera lovers will need no more: these singers are legendary and this release shows us why. Forget the little bit of hiss and marvel at the power and passion on offer at such a good price.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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