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C Major continues its Tutto Verdi edition with his Messa da Requiem. This film includes a 52-minute bonus documentary introducing us to Verdi's beautiful homeland, the region of Parma; from the little village where Verdi was born, to the estate close to Parma where Verdi always came back to and chose to spend most of his life.
I am so happy to have discovered Francesco Meli from this video. I don't know if one soloist can redeem a mostly unexciting performance such as this, but I certainly enjoy listening to his parts at least. Unfortunately, the performance as a whole is quite modest and conservative. It's not the type of Verdi Requiem that is simply electric from beginning to end, such as those by Giulini, Karajan, or Barenboim on video, or Toscanini (or frankly too many to mention) on vinyl.
First of all there is essentially no video direction to speak of. Normally I do prefer conservative camera work. Yes, I get tired of Karajan's face. And I get almost seasick watching the Barenboim video, with its camera on a dolly traveling sideways. (How is that anything like watching a live performance? Does one walk along sideways in front of the stage, while the orchestra's playing?)
Here though, we have almost the opposite, just a few dreary camera angles and they hardly ever change. I sure wish I could watch the bass drum a-bangin' during the Dies Irae. Makes me miss the camera almost making love to the drum in the Barenboim video.
Now, how about the music? Again, modest and conservative. The conducting is work-a-day. The choral and orchestral forces are a little smaller than average, the hall likewise. In any event the acoustics are mild, the sound not getting a chance to mix and, how shall we say, ripen, from the time it is produced on the bows and lips of the performers, to the time it is heard by the listener. It is sort of like a mild oregano pizza served straight out of the oven, with wine, as opposed to a double-cheese and triple-meat pizza rewarmed the following morning, with beer. Some, like me, might prefer the latter.Read more ›
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It's been a few years since I've bought a Verdi Requiem video and this one was included in the Tutto Verdi set I recently bought. I return more to hear star soloists than the whole piece. I noticed that this was a relaxed yet very focused reading of the Requiem and it relaxed me physically and mentally. I did pick up on some intermodulation distortion in the choral audio, tho. The Teatro Farnese was not really built as a musical venue, it seems to be more multipurpose room, a 17th century one. And as it is historic it looks as though they do not allow suspension of microphones so any pick ups have to be done from the floor area and fairly close. I was able to get that cleared up to a very large extent by switching the player into stereo mode while leaving the receiver in 5.1. Each brand is different; I have Pioneer Elite, and the receiver will automatically synthesize some surround signal when it senses a stereo input, so it provides a gentle surround and a subwoofer signal and it's quite satisfactory. I found the camber to be very intelligently paste spending enough time on a specific spot and then moving to the next. When I'm sitting in a concert that's the way my eyes I don't dart back-and-forth depending upon what instrument is playing at that moment. I would love to have Leontyne Price singing soprano in this performance, but we don't, and Theodossiou is a bit wobbly to start but it passes and her part is not large. Ganassi is fine, but I find both men outstanding. Meli is nearly ideal: clear, even and expressive. He also did a great job as the Riccardo in the Ballo in the series. Zannellato is also excellent, with the same qualities. His voice is beautiful focussed and even from top to bottom, as opposed to Pape, who is known for a woolly tone.Read more ›
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