Bernstein in London: Verdi's Requiem (1970)

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11 October 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
9
| Very, very good
Verdi's music is a masterpiece, beautiful and haunting, sometimes even at the same time. While I just prefer the 1967 performance with Price, Cossotto, Pavarotti and Ghiaurov with Karajan conducting, this is still a great performance of Verdi's Requiem. The London Symphony orchestra are simply wonderful, as are the Chorus.

Leonard Bernstein's conducting is electric, as it often was, and has many nuances as well. The photography is excellent, not perhaps as cinematic as the 1967 performance, but there are several interesting and clever angles that avoid the problems that some performances do have. There are one or two minor blips but not enough to harm the performance, and the sound is superb. If there is one thing I would have changed, it would be to focus more on Arroyo more during the climax of the Libera Me.

The soloists are wonderful, with one exception. Martina Arroyo's Libera Me is stunning, epitomising hope and terror while never over-doing. Josephine Veasey is the soloist I am least familiar with, but she sings with a very pleasing tone and good musicality and holds her own against her other soloists. Stand-in Placido Domingo(always a favourite) is simply wonderful, especially during the Kyrie and Hostias, his musicality and burnished tenor is in full flight here.

Ruggero Raimondi was disappointing here, I like Raimondi, he is a great singing-actor and one of the best Don Giovannis, Scarpias, Escamillos and Basilios to me. Here though he sounds ill at ease, some of his tone sounds forced and he goes sharp at times. I will give credit and say he does like Arroyo, Veasey and Domingo excel at connecting with the music. I think part of the problem is that Raimondi is a bass baritone, Verdi's Requiem needs a bass, one that is quite dark, beautiful and thunderous which is why Ghiaurov in the 1967 performance for me completely won me over.

All in all, apart from Raimondi, this is very, very good. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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