Verdi’s Requiem

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The New York Philharmonic and Music Director Alan Gilbert. The New York Philharmonic and Music Director Alan Gilbert. (Chris Lee)

Alan Gilbert leads the New York Philharmonic in Verdi's Requiem Mass with soprano Angela Meade; mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi; tenor Russell Thomas; bass-baritone Eric Owens; and the New York Choral Artists under the direction of Joseph Flummerfelt.

Program playlist:
Verdi: Requiem Mass

Comments [3]

Les from Miami, Florida

The contrasts in the Choir were vivid and appropriate, from the "sotto voce" beginning to the fortissimo "Dies Irae". (Of the recordings I have, Serafin/Rome Opera Orchestra, Reiner, Vienna Philharmonic, Bernstein/London Symphony, Toscanini, NBC Symphony, all with legendary soloists, none seems to equal Toscanini's bass drum player in the dress rehearsal for his 1951 broadcast issued on RCA Victor LM-6018. I don't know if it's microphone placement, use of two bass drums, or an unknown factor, but that's the only version I've ever heard in which the bass drum sounds like thunder accompanying the Day of Judgment.) In that wondrous section in the present performance, the bass drum did sound as if, as Verdi's written instruction indicates, that the head was tightened to sound dry and loud. Throughout the work, both timpani and the bass drum, whether played in tandem or in opposition, were at the same dynamic. Mr. Russell, though being a late substitute, blended well with Ms. Meade and Ms. Paasikivi, of the limpid tone and careful enunciation as with Mr. Owens, of the evenness of tone and solidity throughout the range of his assignment. The one obsolete instrument Verdi wrote for in the "Requiem", the Officleide, replaced by a bass tuba, as per usual. The bass solo, "Mors stupebit" was distinguished by Mr. Owens's repeating the word "mors" ever more quietly and with increasing awe in so doing. Ms. Paasikivi's "Quid sum miser" sounded appropriately supplicant as the solo bassoon played it's staccato first note and following notes in the phrase legato, as written. The choral "Rex traemenda...", began fortissimo followed by a diminuendo, also as written. The celebrated tenor section "Ingemisco" for some inexplicable reason was accelerated at the words "Preces meae, non sunt signe..", but returned to original tempo at "Inter oves locum praesta..." until its end. The two solo violins' intonation in their solo in the "Offertorio" was spot on; and the tempo acceleration at "Quam olim Abrahae..." well taken, but, happily, not too fast to the point of exaggeration. Ms. Paasikivi's "Lacrymosa" had the feeling of piety. The double choir in "Sanctus" shone from the standpoints of intonation balance and pronunciation; and the Orchestra's ascending and descending chromatic scale dazzled with its accuracy of pitch as well as dynamic: a virtuoso feat in itself, I've always felt. In "Agnus Dei", I was struck by Ms. Meade and Ms. Paasikivi's grace notes being of the same intensity and duration throughout. In the concluding "Libera me, the Choir shone in the final fugue; and Ms. Meade's final line "Libera me domine..." written "senza misura", had an emphasis and feeling of conviction that was readily discernable. The C major chord that ends the work, with the syllable "...me" had the requisite tone of serenity.

Mar. 29 2015 03:01 PM
EJ from Staten Island

I went looking for what was played & when I saw "Verdi's Requiem", I was confused because it sounded nothing like Verdi & had no singing. JB's comment confirms what I thought.

Having said that... what *was* played was a brilliant (and very long) piece of work and I was not able to listen long enough to find out what it was. If WQXR could post what was actually played, that would be wonderful, so I may purchase it. Thanks.

Mar. 28 2015 04:16 PM
Jonathan Brown from Lawrence, New York

The Requiem was not broadcast last night. I hope qxr will announce when the broadcast will occur.

Mar. 27 2015 01:03 PM

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