Carlo Maria Giulini

Fauré: Requiem; Verdi: Four Sacred Pieces

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Recorded in dim, dull, and distant monaural sound, this concert, from April 30, 1962, by Carlo Maria Giulini and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus with soprano Janet Baker and baritone Gèrard Souzay, nevertheless deserves to be heard. Fauré's Requiem and Verdi's Quattro pezzi sacri are among the finest and surely among the sincerest pieces of late nineteenth century Catholic sacred music, and they are treated here to performances that not only fulfill their loftiest ambitions but wholly transcend their aged sound. Usually a highly dramatic and deeply expressive conductor, Giulini is here an entirely personal, even emotionally intimate, conductor. In his hands, Fauré's consoling Requiem is wonderfully comforting and Verdi's a cappella Ave Maria is simply sublime. Part of the credit should go to Baker for her ardent Pie Jesu and to Souzay for his magisterial Libera me. And undoubtedly part of the credit should go to the Philharmonia Chorus, which, thanks to music director Wilhelm Pitz, produces the kind of warm, brilliantly polished tone the music and conductor demand. Thus, though the sound on this BBC disc is antique, the performances could justly be called timeless.

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