For a few decades now, Fritz Reiner's recording of the Verdi Requiem (one of his rare stereo recordings not made for RCA, and not with the Chicago Symphony) has lurked in the shadowy corners of Decca's catalog, appearing only on budget LPs and CD two-fers. Now, in its latest incarnation as part of the Decca Legends series, it may at last get the recognition it deserves. Reiner's rendition has several things going for it, not least of which are the superstar soprano and tenor soloists.
Acknowledged to be the finest Karajan recording of this overwhelming sacred masterpiece - "electrifying … with the Italian chorus and orchestra singing and playing their hearts out … a historic document" (Gramophone). This 1967 performance features four of the 20th century's greatest Verdi singers - Price, Cossotto and Ghiaurov were at the peak of their careers, while the young Pavarotti was still comparatively unknown (though not for long).
The last recording of conductor Lorin Maazel. World-famous conductor Lorin Maazel was chief conductor of the Münchner Philharmoniker until shortly before his death in July 2014 at the age of 84. This live recording, which happened in February 2014, is probably the last recording of Maazel. It documents an acclaimed and moving concert in the Munich Philharmonie with Lorin Maazel and the Münchner Philharmoniker and their choir per-forming Verdi’s famous requiem. The excellent soloists were Anja Harteros (soprano), Daniela Barcellona (mezzo-soprano), Wookyung Kim (tenor) and Georg Zeppenfeld (bass).
The fiftieth anniversary of Toscanini’s death in 2007 was celebrated with gala concerts around the world, one of the most glamorous events being this benefit concert at the basilica of St Mark’s in Venice. The 11-year-old child prodigy Lorin Maazel once met the Italian maestro in New York, and Toscanini’s legacy left a permanent mark on Maazel as a musician. His tour with the Symphonica Toscanini, called “In the Footsteps of Toscanini”, culminated in two concerts in Venice featuring Verdi’s Requiem, a showpiece of Toscanini’s, and St Mark’s, the birthplace of stereophonic and quadraphonic sound, proved to be an ideal venue for this eloquent and musically impressive confessional work.
Giuseppe Verdi was born in the little town of Roncole in the vicinity of Parma and spent the longest period of his life in seclusion close to Parma. He died in Milan in 1901. Today, the region of Parma honours its one-time fellow citizen with the international Verdi Festival organized by the Teatro Regio di Parma. Every year, Verdi’s masterworks are performed in the historical theatres of Parma and neighbouring Busseto over 28 days in the autumn…
This recording marks the start of Riccardo Muti's tenure with the Chicago Symphony. It is also his first appearance on the orchestra's own label. Given the reputations of the conductor, the orchestra, and even the label itself, expectations run high are not disappointed. This is as good a Verdi Requiem as you'll find anywhere on disc. It is a distinctive interpretation as well, the work of a conductor who is clearly intent on stamping his identity on his new ensemble. www.classical-cd-reviews.com, October 2010