Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Giuseppe VERDI
Messa solenne (Messa di Gloria). Qui tollis. Tantum ergo in F. Laudate pueri. Tantum ergo in G. Pater noster. Ave Maria. Libera me (Messa per Rossini, 1869 version).
Elisabetta Scano, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs (sopranos); Juan Diego Flórez, Kenneth Tarver (tenors); Eldar Aliev, Michele Pertusi (basses); Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Riccardo Chailly.
Decca 467 280-2 [DDD] [69'09]
£10.99  Amazon UK  £12.99 AmazonUS $15.49

The Verdi celebrations have elicited a host of welcome issues from the majors, including the eye-opening Jérusalem on Philips (462 6132-2). Riccardo Chailly here makes a notable contribution by turning his attention to another side of this most operatically based of composers: the lesser-known liturgical music. Decca in fact include no fewer than five World Première recordings on this release (the first five items listed above, all in critical editions by Professor Dino Rizzi).

Of all the pieces on this disc the most familiar is the Libera me, later used (with an expanded solo part) in the awe-inspiring Requiem of 1874. Chailly presents the 1869 version (intended for the multi-composer Messa per Rossini). Aided by the dramatic declamation of the soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, the Libera me emerges as a dramatic scena of grand design. Its effect is highlighted by the excellence of Decca's recording (Andrew Cornall, Producer and Philip Siney, engineer), which unflinchingly presents the wide dynamic range in a believable acoustic space.

All of the last three items on the disc (the Libera me, the Pater noster and the Ave Maria) are of a consistently high musical standard, the choir excelling in the unaccompanied Pater noster. If you start by playing the Libera me and then turn back to the Missa solenne, you may be in for a shock. The latter has a light, crisp chamber music feel to it: Chailly inspires his strings to appropriately gossamer-light articulation in Cum sancto spiritus. One might argue that the Gloria in excelsis is civil rather than grandly celebrational, but as long as one does not expect the grand gestures of late Verdi, this torso will delight (the manuscripts of Qui sedes and Quoniam tu solus sanctus are unfortunately lost). Particularly noteworthy is Elisabetta Scano's clear solos and the deft woodwind contributions.

The smaller items (each lasting in the region of five minutes) provide their own delights. The Qui tollis, in particular, with its playful solo flute, will provide much pleasure. The more harmonically experimental Ave Maria (first performed in 1880) receives a touching performance: the orchestra is extremely tender, as is the soloist, Cristina Gallardo-Domâs.

A fascinating disc, then, and one in which the dedication of all concerned is beyond doubt. Well worth exploring.

Colin Clarke



Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit