Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A recommended Verdi recording

Here is an ITUNES link to a recording of the Verdi Requiem that I like. I downloaded it and it sounded great. Tempos are a little slow according to the review below, but that might help you learn it.

(Review From Amazon.com)
Harnoncourt's Verdi Requiem stresses the "spiritual" aspects of the work and downplays its theatrical elements. He's aided by the wonderful playing and singing of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir. Both give Harnoncourt precisely what he wants. It's doubtful though that what results in a recording competitive with the best. Pacing is agonizingly slow, without the rhythmic life that allows other versions that stress the score's religious aspects (Guilini for EMI and BBC, Fricsay for DG) to retain their classic status. The slow tempos do allow Harnoncourt to explore details often overlooked by others, so the huge outbursts of the "Dies Irae" section have the kind of precise articulation and carefully observed instrumental details rarely heard. But the slow speeds also come at the cost of pushing his miscast, light-voiced solo quartet far beyond their limits. Their singing is full of carefully refined tonal shadings that seem out of place in this work, as well as afflicted by intrusive vibratos. Verdi completists and the curious will want this; others will be content with such longtime favorites as the Giulini, Solti (Decca), and Toscanini (RCA) versions. --Dan Davis


Gregory said...

Umm... Eeew.

Not the recording to be pushing. Harnoncourt is great at the first Vienese School. He is, however, your go-to guy for the minor Mozart masses.

I guess, your students would probably hage the Solti from the 80's in which Pavarotti is brilliant, but Joan and Marilyn can't agree on a key together half the time.

The Abaddo with Giorghiu upon prefunctory listen sounds promising, but my recording is the Barenboim/CSO recording from 2000, when Hillis was still at the whip for the CSC.

The Atlanta Symphony runs a close second and has actually kind of held up over time with no help at all from Jerry Hadley.

Happy listening. Maybe a dreamcast recording is in order....

Philip L. Copeland said...

Have you actually listened to the Harnoncourt recording, or are you just responding to what he is more traditionally known for?

Gregory said...

I have not heard this recording. Amazon did not have available excerpts, and by the time I got home to give it a try on iTunes, it was already a distant memory.

But I do know that Michael Schade has about as much business singing the Verdi Requiem as I do.

I'm assuming Harnoncourt seriously scaled down to what one might think of as an HIP Verdi orchestra. Nothing like the 100+ piece used for modern recordings, which might make it work...

I'm not dismissing the recording entirely, I'm just expressing reservations.

Notice that Harnoncourt has still chosen essentially Mozart singers for Verdi. Bernarda Fink? She's a baby of René Jacobs and specializes in Handel, Gluck, and Mozart. Eva Mei doesn't have anything more substantial than Donizetti in her discography. And as much as I adore Ildebrando D'Archangelo, further than Escamillo in Carmen he cannot go.

That said, your students are not listening to this for the soloists. I have always been pleased with the Schönberg Choir. And even John Eliot Gardiner got some characteristic sounds out of the Monteverdi Choir for his recording of this sacred opera.

I would be interested in how the Schönberg Choir handles the Dies Irae and Tuba Mirum (the litmus test of any "chamber choir" attempting to swim deep). And do you know if he's performing at A=430? Verdi said anything higher than that was torture to singers. What on earth would he think to find out the Vienna Staatsoper is now tuning at A=444?!