Giuseppe Verdi

Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)

    Description by John Palmer

    That Verdi's Messa da Requiem should be infused with the dramatic power of the his operas is no surprise. The text of the requiem is the most dramatic Verdi ever set, allowing him to explore his new ability to compose large sections of music on a "symphonic" scale with powerful passages for chorus and orchestra.

    As much as Verdi lamented the death of Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), he was more moved by the death of novelist Alessandro Manzoni in 1873. When Rossini died, Verdi felt that only Manzoni remained of Italy's great tradition. After Manzoni died, Verdi wrote to Contessa Maffei, "Now all is over! And with him ends...the greatest of our glories." When Verdi and Manzoni met in 1848, Verdi described the experience as one of being in the presence "of a saint." It was for Manzoni that Verdi composed his requiem.

    From the very beginning, Verdi's Requiem was intended for the concert hall, not the church. This gave the composer some freedom when setting the text, although he remained much more faithful to the standard liturgy than did Berlioz in his setting. Verdi's Requiem was first performed on May 22, 1874, in Milan, on the first anniversary of Manzoni's death.

    Verdi conveys the solemnity of the Requiem Mass through the opening cello line, a muted, descending phrase. The orchestra has the thematic material in the first part of the Introit, "Requiem aeternam," as the chorus sings the text in snatches. To balance this, the central part of the movement, "Te decet hymnus," is for unaccompanied chorus. After the return of the "Requiem aeternam" the Kyrie begins, introducing the soloists.

    The "Dies irae," opening the Sequence, is the most famous part of Verdi's Requiem. Brass and bass drum make their first appearance in this tumultuous outburst depicting the "day of wrath." Distant trumpets sound and are joined by the rest of the brass before the "Tuba mirum." Quietly, the solo bass begins the "Mors stupebit" (Death is struck), accompanied by pizzicato basses and bass drum. After the solo mezzo-soprano delivers the "liber scriptus proferetur," the chorus bursts in with a reprise of the "Dies irae," an event dictated by musical considerations that has nothing to do with the requiem mass text. For the "Lacrimosa," Verdi extended and rewrote a duet for Don Carlos and King Philip he had cut from Don Carlos before its premiere. Like Cherubini, Verdi unites the Sanctus and Benedictus.

    Verdi composed the concluding "Libera me," for soprano, chorus, and orchestra in 1868-1869 as his part of a collaborative requiem for Rossini, the remaining sections of which were to be set by other Italian composers. The project came to nothing, but Verdi kept his "Libera me" and eagerly seized the opportunity to use it as part of a complete requiem. After the solo soprano begins the movement, the chorus again intercedes with the "Dies irae," which is followed by a beautiful reprise of the "Requiem aeternam" and a closing, fugal setting of the "Libera me."

    Parts/Movements

    1. Requiem
    2. Dies Irae
    3. Tuba mirum
    4. Liber scriptus
    5. Quid sum miser
    6. Rex tremendae
    7. Recordare
    8. Ingemisco
    9. Confutatis
    10. Lacrymosa
    11. Offertorio (Domine Jesu...Hostias)
    12. Sanctus
    13. Agnus Dei
    14. Lux aeterna
    15. Libera me

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon B002346910
    2015 Relief CR 8004
    2015 Sony Classical 88875083302
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94948BR
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843006072
    2014 BR Klassik 900126
    2013 Decca 4785437
    2013 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4791884
    2013 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4791044
    2013 Music & Arts MA 1269
    2013 Erato 537907
    2013 Decca 4785245
    2013 Decca
    2013 Warner Classics 677167
    2013 Erato 5099993414029
    2013 Lodia Compact Discs / Lodia Music LOCD 772/73
    2012 Erato 2564663202
    2012 Krescendo Records / Zebralution
    2012 Archipel 0480
    2012 Myto Historical Line / Myto Records 00306
    2012 Myto Historical / Myto Records MCD 00309
    2012 ICA Classics ICAC 5068
    2011 Archipel ARPCD 0521
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909802
    2011 Apex 4677168
    2011 Disc Makers / Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra 5637774187
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099908521
    2010 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic 98.606
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 CSO Resound 9011008
    2010 CSO Resound 9011006
    2010 RCA Red Seal 88697646632
    2010 EMI Classics
    2010 RCA Red Seal 88697705692
    2010 Signum Classics / Signum UK 184
    2010 LPO 48
    2010 EMI Classics
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon / DG Deutsche Grammophon 4778167
    2009 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Document 223013
    2009 DG Deutsche Grammophon 001303802
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099969893
    2009 Hannsler Classic 93249
    2009 House of Classics 220108
    2009 Document / Membran 222942207
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93263
    2009 IDIS 6567/6568
    2009 LSO 683
    2008 EMI Classics 13937
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184222
    2008 Orfeo 728082
    2008 Audite 23415
    2008 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4777584
    2008 Opus KURA 7040
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697296109
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 5675602
    2008 Music & Arts 1219
    2007 Preiser Records 20047
    2007 TDK DVWW-COVREQ
    2007 Urania 11930
    2007 Chandos 9490
    2007 Lyrichord Classical 6008
    2007 Elatus
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2006 Musica Di Angeli 99181
    2006 Deja Vu 24
    2006 Preiser Records 90068
    2006 RCA Red Seal 67893
    2006 Coviello Classics COV 30512
    2006 Universal
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 7593622
    2005 Arte Nova 357990
    2005 Archipel 0273
    2005 Archipel 0285
    2005 Berlin Classics 0092892
    2005 RCA Red Seal 61244
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86239
    2005 Brilliant 99072
    2004 Document 221543
    2004 Golden Melodram 40072
    2004 BBC Legends / BBC Music 41442
    2004 Virgin Classics 62322
    2004 Philips 000157119
    2004 Rca Red Seal 62318
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Golden Melodram 40067
    2003 Arioso 1
    2002 DG Deutsche Grammophon 469 319-2
    2002 Opera D'Oro 1352
    2001 History 204573
    2001 Arte Nova 35799
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67486
    2001 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 556459
    2001 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243557168
    2001 Opera D'Oro 1314
    2001 Preiser Records 90445
    2001 Myto Records 13245
    2001 Naxos 110159
    2001 Aura Classics 0235
    2001 Capriccio Records 51021
    2001 RCA 09026 63747-2
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67563
    2001 Urania 189
    2000 RCA 72373
    2000 Arkadia 78538
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 66880
    2000 IDIS 345/6
    2000 Gala Records 100541
    2000 Decca 467119
    2000 Arsis 99046
    2000 Teldec 82120
    2000 Bel Age 401
    2000 Urania 151
    2000 Sony Music Distribution 707
    1999 BBC Legends / BBC Music 40292
    1999 Music & Arts 4240
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 423674
    1999 Claves 9911
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 55062
    1999 Pearl 9374
    1998 Doremi Records 7734
    1998 Testament 2140
    1998 Naxos 550944
    1997 Dutton Laboratories 7010
    1997 Grammofono 2000 78760
    1997 DG Deutsche Grammophon 453 091-2GTA2
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 556250-2
    1996 Capriccio Records 10646
    1996 DG Deutsche Grammophon 447442
    1996 Chandos 9490
    1996 Disques Pierre Verany 730054
    1996 EMI Classics 68613
    1995 Elysium 708
    1995 Orfeo 195892
    1995 Madacy 7600
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 439033
    1995 DG Deutsche Grammophon 439684
    1995 Myto Records 91648
    1995 EMI Music Distribution 65435
    1995 Pearl 9162
    1995 London 444833
    1995 Philips 442142
    1994 DG Deutsche Grammophon 437473
    1994 Phonographe 5012
    1994 Music & Arts CD-240
    1994 Legato Classics 178
    1994 Erato 96357
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 53252
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 47639
    1993 RCA 61403
    1993 DG Deutsche Grammophon 435884
    1992 RCA Victor 60902
    1992 Verona Records 27060
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 62892
    1990 Telarc Distribution 80152
    1990 London 411944
    1988 DG Deutsche Grammophon 413215
    1987 EMI Music Distribution 49390
    1987 EMI Music Distribution 47257
    1986 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4159762
    1984 Decca
    Datum 12323
    RCA 60326
    Golden Melodram 28044
    Iron Needle 1415
    Document 221547303
    Arion 610004
    Rodolphe 325
    CBS Records Masterworks 77231
    Musica Di Angeli 99190
    Testament 1362
    EMI Music Distribution 63341
    Brilliant Classics 93958
    Bella Voce 7201
    Archiphon 32
    London 421608
    History 204578
    Standing Room Only 842
    Discover 920105
    Claves 509911
    The Radio Years 77
    Philips / Philips 468079
    Bainbridge 2103
    Opera 54502
    Foyer Records 2012
    As Disc 11010
    Arkadia 446
    Globe 5141
    Serenissima 360155
    Madacy 7602/1-2
    EMI Music Distribution 47257
    Decca 000710602
    RCA 60299