Richard Hickox

Verdi: Requiem

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Verdi's Requiem, primarily written in response to the death of Italian author Alessandro Manzoni, is a tour de force for orchestra, chorus, and soloists alike. Despite early criticism from the likes of Hans von Bülow and even the Vatican, the Requiem has secured itself as one of the most popular works on the classical music stage. For this fame, the work has to thank its abundance of crowd-pleasing features, including the thunderous and menacing Dies irae, the brash Tuba mirum, the beautifully simple Offertorio, and the operatically conceived solo parts. For the piece to be pulled off successfully, chorus, soloists, and orchestra must be equally magnificent. The London Symphony Orchestra, its Chorus, and soloists easily deliver technical and artistic mastery. The choir's diction and clarity could not be improved upon, and bass soloist Robert Lloyd's performance is deep and moving. Chandos' sound quality on this particular recording, however, is problematic. The microphones seem to be too close to the soloists, not allowing their voices to have sufficient time to "bloom." The orchestra and chorus alike are extremely lacking on the bass end of the sound spectrum. The otherwise powerful Tuba mirum is so bright and treble-heavy that the volume must be lowered. This overly bright sound is sadly enough to make this recording a less-than-favorable choice for this immense work.

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