Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
This reviewer believes that any respectable collection of choral music needs a copy of Verdi's Requiem. The question is, though, should it be this one? Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is best remembered as one of the greatest composers of all time although his fame lies almost exclusively in opera, hence his relatively infrequent appearances in Cross Rhythms. However when the author Alessandro Manzoni died in 1867 Verdi was provoked into taking an unfinished project, a Mass in memory of Gioachino Rossini, and completing it in memory of Manzoni. It opens with a subdued choral "Requiem" and comes to life in the concertato pieces such as the "Kyrie", the stormy and frightening "Dies Irae", the "Domine Jesu" and the final "Libera Me". Sometimes Verdi teeters on the edge of going overboard and giving us a sacred opera but he usually manages to restrain himself. As I said, if you have any interest in Christian choral singing you need to hear Verdi's Requiem. But, it has to be said, perhaps not in this version. Georg Solti (1912-1997) was a Hungarian Jew who eventually became a British subject and a knight of the realm but is best known as a conductor of Mozart and Wagner. On this CD we hear a live recording from Köln on 17th November 1958 that has been digitally remastered by Danilo Prefumo in Milan in January 2009 and I regret that this is all the technical information I have. The remastering is, at best, adequate. The music is listenable with the soloists coming through almost loud and not quite clear. The bonus tracks, all conducted by Solti and this time with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, are by Rossini, Offenbach and Ponchielli. These are studio recordings from 1958 and the audio quality is much better. The link is obviously Solti and not the actual content. No doubt Solti connoisseurs will be rushing to order this but listeners who want to add Verdi's Requiem to their collection are advised to look elsewhere.
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