- Audio CD (Jan 1 1990)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Import
- Label: Telarc
- ASIN: B000003CUH
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
|1. Requiem: 1. Requiem & Kyrie|
|2. Requiem: 2. Dies Irae|
|3. Requiem: 3. Offertory|
|4. Requiem: 4. Sanctus|
|1. Requiem: 5. Agnus Dei|
|2. Requiem: 6. Lux Aeterna|
|3. Requiem: 7. Libera Me - 1. Libera Me - 2. Dies Irae - 3. Requiem Aeternam - 4. Libera Me|
|4. Requiem: Spuntato Ecco|
|5. Requiem: Patria Oppressa!|
|6. Requiem: Fuoco Di Gioia|
|7. Requiem: Va Pensiero|
|8. Requiem: Gloria All'Egitto|
With all the flap over the recently released Gergiev recording of the Verdi Requiem on Philips, with its unfortunate choice of Andrea Bocelli - a pop singer masquerading as an operatic singer - as tenor soloist, it is once again - and always - a pleasure to turn to a truly definitive recorded performance, that of Robert Shaw. As points of reference whenever I turn to this performance, I always have in mind earlier recordings by Giulini and Solti, among others. (I include a truly visceral one by Karel Ancerl and the Czech Philharmonic, featuring Galina Vishnevskaya with a "Libera me" to die for, and the type of Slavic excitement that Gergiev tries for but fails.)
Verdi's Requiem is, without doubt, the most operatic of such works as have become part of the liturgical canon. But it doesn't necessarily follow from this that the best recordings are the ones which utilize operatic superstars. Were that the case, Solti's recording, with Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Luciano Pavarotti and Martti Talvela, would be unchallenged (particularly when one throws in the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as the typically excellent mid-60's sound that Decca was so good at). But, true to form, Solti just couldn't find the proper sensitivity and balance to make his performance the definitive one.
Shaw does what Solti could not do. In a work that requires efforts of equal quality by orchestra, soloists and chorus, there simply is no better chorus than a Shaw chorus. Shaw's four soloists, while perhaps not of the marquee value of the ones on the Solti recording, are outstanding. A previous customer reviewer certainly got it right when he said that Susan Dunn was a Verdi soprano to be reckoned with. And Diane Curry, Jerry Hadley and Paul Plishka are equally excellent. (Plishka, as I mention later, is one of my "memories.") Moreover, in a work which demands that the cataclysms of the Dies Irae and the tenderly supplicant closing pages of the Libera me be captured in proper proportions, none are better than Telarc at this challenge.
The personal friendship between Robert Shaw and the Cleveland-based Telarc team of Bob Woods and Jack Renner goes back to the days when Shaw was George Szell's assistant at the Cleveland Orchestra. Thus it was, when Woods and Renner introduced the "all-digital" Telarc label in the late 70's, that they turned to Shaw and his Atlantans as an enduring source for the recording of choral masterpieces. With the passing of Shaw some two years ago, it is now time that someone sum up his recorded legacy, which, under the aegis of Telarc, exceeds three dozen recordings. In my humble opinion, he will be remembered for a long, long time for three works that Telarc recorded with his forces: The Bach B Minor Mass, the Brahms German Requiem, and this Verdi Requiem.
Oh! The memories! For several years, at a time when Shaw's Atlanta forces were as good as they were to get, in the early 80's, I was fortunate to live in the Atlanta area, and to attend many of his concerts. And, in the fall of 1965, when Paul Plishka had just won a "young artist" award that was to lead to his Metropolitan Opera career, I was fortunate to have been a member of an amateur chorus which performed this work with a semi-pro orchestra and four young soloists. The names of the other three soloists were long ago relegated to the dustbin of history. But the bass soloist at that 1965 performance was none other than Paul Plishka. He's still banging the boards at the Met. One durable dude!
Once again, kudos to Mr. Grant for his superb review, and for his reminding me that I had some "unfinished business" to attend to.