This 53-CD set is more than the sum of its parts. While not all the performances and recordings are top-notch, the overall quality is very high and as a historical overview of a label known for its sonic as well as musical merits, it's full of treasures. The Mercury sound at its best is vivid and still sounds remarkable and many of these recordings - such as the marches, show tunes and orchestral showpieces conducted by Frederic Fennell - demonstrate this amply. But it's not all lollipops by any means.
The conciliatory message of Weinberg’s Sixth Symphony recurs in his Requiem op. 96. It was composed between 1965 and 1967, surely as a response to Benjamin Britten’s famous War Requiem of 1962, which had been warmly recommended to him by his friend Shostakovich. Both works are fraught with deep emotion and unrestrained outrage at the horrors of war. Requiems of this sort did not, of course, have a liturgical function in the Soviet Union, where the Orthodox faith had been supplanted by faith in the State. Instead, such laments were …….