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Requiem Hybrid SACD - DSD

3.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, August 30, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Harnoncourt's Verdi Requiem stresses the "spiritual" aspects of the work and downplays its theatrical elements. He's aided by the wonderful playing and singing of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Arnold Schoenberg Choir. Both give Harnoncourt precisely what he wants. It's doubtful though that what results in a recording competitive with the best. Pacing is agonizingly slow, without the rhythmic life that allows other versions that stress the score's religious aspects (Guilini for EMI and BBC, Fricsay for DG) to retain their classic status. The slow tempos do allow Harnoncourt to explore details often overlooked by others, so the huge outbursts of the "Dies Irae" section have the kind of precise articulation and carefully observed instrumental details rarely heard. But the slow speeds also come at the cost of pushing his miscast, light-voiced solo quartet far beyond their limits. Their singing is full of carefully refined tonal shadings that seem out of place in this work, as well as afflicted by intrusive vibratos. Verdi completists and the curious will want this; others will be content with such longtime favorites as the Giulini, Solti (Decca), and Toscanini (RCA) versions. --Dan Davis
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 30, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B0009U55PG
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,036 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Harnoncourt is thoroughly convincing in presenting the Requiem as a series of intense prayers/meditations on death. The approach is similar to his Aida - not allowing volume or histrionics to overwhelm either the listener or the singers. This allows him to explore Verdi's orchestral colours and nuances and the soloists and choir to sing beautifully and meaningfully.
What is revealed is the work's religious ambiguity, its similarities with Verdi's operas, its roots in Gregorian chant, and its astounding newness and uniqueness. This is a performance to live with. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
... continues with Verdi's boombastic and big take on Requiem, an opera disguised as a Mass for the Dead. After Harnoncourt's radical approach to Mozart's Requiem, I expected something fresh in his reading and he does not disappoint.
First of all, the sound is amazing; I can only comment on the quality of the regular CD, but it's outstanding how this recording benefits from the close, clean and very intimate settings. This is Verdi devoid of histrionics, brash sound and Halloween horror, but still very intense.
The beginning sequences are beautifully subdued; the Arnold Schoenberg Choir continues to make the stand as one of the best choruses in the world. When listening to other recordings of Kyrie, I am usually twiddling with volume controls, trying to actually hear anything- that's not the case here. These extreme pianissimos are, for once, soft, not just inaudible. And when the chorus picks up at "Te Decet Hymnus", their sound is still beautiful transparent, just more intense. In later sequences, in Dies Irae, and especially in Sanctus, which is so easily turned into out of control train wreck, the chorus is in perfect control of the line, and the flow of music.
The orchestra playing throughout the whole disc is exceptional, and they are nuances in the instrumental texture that I never even noticed before. The brass section in particular does amazing things- there were moments where I was just shaking my head in disbelief. I had no idea Verdi could sound so lean, clean and great- this is not the usual wall of sound, where every instrument just plays loud and fights for survival.
I am, however, less impressed with the soloists.
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Format: Audio CD
Harnoncourt's version of Verdi's religious operetta was recorded in concert in the Musikverein in late 2004. The recording carries the label of hybrid SACD in surround sound. The publicity on the back cover indicates the version uses a new edition that projects the spiritual, not operatic, qualities of the music.

I am not so certain about either of the latter statements above. It seems to me Harnoncourt merely starts slowly and does not project the kind of demonic end of world quality in the Dies Irae that Solti and other more hot-blooded conductors bring to the music. Otherwise, this seems like a straightforward reading that is neither operatic nor spiritual.

For me, the best part of this is the singing by the vocal quartet. This begins in the latter sections of the Dies Irae and continues through the second half. Each soloist is wonderfully captured by the clear recording, with exceptional elocution.

I enjoyed the singing throughout almost as much as I enjoyed Harnoncourt eschewing personal affectation from the recording. Anyone that's heard a half-dozen recordings by this conductor knows he goes in for italicized accents, weird tenuto and other devices that seem to break up the melodic flow for no good reason. Fortunately, Harnoncourt withheld this completely throughout this concert recording.

The SACD recording is clear and captures even the biggest moments with clarity, projection and without congestion or dissonance. I played this on my 5.1 SACD player and system, where the playback was in stereo only. This leads me to believe this is a stereo recording, not true multichannel. It played fine and sounded good in stereo reproduction on my five channel system.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I just heard this much-maligned recording of the Verdi Requiem and must respectfully disagree with the overall negative feedback.

I found this new recording of the Verdi Requiem to be a very enjoyable listening experience.

While it is true that the soloists are not blow-down-the-walls vocal battleships, they are anything but inadequate. It is actually quite refreshing to be able to hear the notes without putting up with the schmaltz and theatrics which you hear from, e.g, Renee Fleming and Leontyne Price.

Eva Mei, soprano, has been singled out for special criticsm by the likes of Gramophone Magazine. But I found her voice to be a real pleasure to hear. Her register changes are not so stomach-wrenching like Price's.

I was especially happy to finally hear the Arnold Schoenberg Choir; I was quite pleased. Despite their name, they sound fine with Verdi: balance and ensemble work were all top-notch.

Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic may sound like a classical "Odd Couple," but they make wonderful music together in this recording.

This is not a "fast" performance, but I don't agree it is overly slow as some suggest. FYI, the Riccardo Muti CD is actually a few seconds longer than Harnoncourt's. I liked the slower tempo of the Dies Irae; I don't think it took away anything of the drama of the music.

My only criticism are the rather bizarre liner notes. They appear to have been written by an anti-religion social activist ranting about WMDs and globalisation, and who regards Verdi's Requiem as a denunciation of the evils of humanity. Very weird.

Engineering sound was very good. Packaging is compact. Texts and translations included.
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