Performances of Giuseppe Verdi's sacred music fall along a spectrum between two extremes: it may be treated as opera with a slight alteration in subject matter, or as informed by the long tradition of sacred music, Italian and otherwise. This live performance by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under Gianandrea Noseda falls just about as far as can be toward the former end of the spectrum. This is a blood-and-guts requiem mass, with big contrasts in dynamics, a substantial choir, and soloists pushed to the edge in order to fill the big musical spaces that result. Plunge in and sample the main "Dies irae" material, which is just this side of being over the top, but never loses control. The LSO brasses acquit themselves heroically here, perhaps because the choir has shone so brightly in the opening "Requiem" and "Kyrie," rising from almost imperceptible sound at the beginning in a mighty crescendo. The soloists, all of them Italian, give out a heroic sound, meeting the needs of the interpretation rather than of their own inner trajectory. Possibly the biggest stars of all here are the LSO's sound engineers, working at the Barbican, whose Super Audio sound is exemplary. They get the uncommonly wide dynamic range of Noseda's performance; they get the music's silences; they get absolute clarity in the textures. And they get the excitement of live performance even with all that. For those after a blood-and-guts Verdi Requiem, this is now a recording of choice.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Manheim