Classical Reissue Reviews

VERDI: Requiem – Soloists/ Chicago Sym. Orch. & Chorus/ Daniel Barenboim – Warner/Apex

A classic resurfaces…but do we have to make allowances for the sound?

Published on March 16, 2012

VERDI: Requiem – Soloists/ Chicago Sym. Orch. & Chorus/ Daniel Barenboim – Warner/Apex

VERDI: Requiem – Alessandra Marc, soprano/ Waltraud Meier, mezzo-soprano/ Placido Domingo, tenor/ Ferruccio Furlanetto, bass/ Chicago Sym. Orch. and Chorus/ Daniel Barenboim – Warner Classics, Apex 2564 67716-8 (2 CDs), 84:04 [Distr. by Naxos] ***:

This 1994 Teldec recording made quite a splash at the time; after all, the Chicago Symphony and its sterling chorus was considered maybe the best possible combination to perform this popular and spectacular work. And spectacular it is; the thing is played to the hilt here, the Chicago brass almost overwhelming, and the tempos on the very brisk side. The chorus is predictably fine though not quite as sharp as Shaw’s Atlantans on Telarc. The soloists are excellent all the way around, though I was never one that jumped on the Alessandra Marc bandwagon when it came through town, and she is the weak link here, though in this company “weak” is quite relative.

One of the things that I did notice is the lack of bass in this recording; it almost sounds like a host of 1960s-70s DGG recordings that showed great clarity in the bass range with little actual impact. Compare any Karajan recording on DGG and a remake on EMI and you will see what I mean—the EMI always has fuller bass. And in this piece the impact is very important. Shaw has it on Telarc and that does make a difference, and I would probably pick him over this one, even though, as I said, it is a really terrific performance. But these days of Super Audio we expect a lot more sound-wise, and unless you are so sold on this performance as to supersede many other better-sounding ones—and many are, and with good reason—equals are available in many guises.

—Steven Ritter




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