Antonio Pappano

Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem

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Led with bare-knuckled aggression by Antonio Pappano, this performance of the Verdi Requiem misses no opportunity for moving musical heaven and earth. Played with visceral power by the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and sung with gripping terror by its chorus with a stellar cast of international soloists, this Requiem sounds, even more than most, like it belongs in an opera house. Pappano expertly evokes fear, awe, and majesty with an operatic flair. He manages the big moments with tremendous verve and deploys the soloists with maximum dramatic impact. Many earlier conductors' Requiems have gone for the operatic jugular -- Reiner's and Solti's, for example -- but it's a rare performance that transcends mere stage drama to rise to the level of a cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil, a performance like Toscanini's, for instance. Pappano's Requiem is undeniably immensely impressive, but it doesn't have the impact of Toscanini's utterly devastating version. EMI's digital sound is extremely loud and almost entirely lacking in nuance.

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