Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Messa da Requiem (1874): Requiem aeternam-Kyrie; Dies irae; Tuba mirum; Liber scriptus; Quid sum miser; Rex tremendae; Recordare; Ingemisco; Confutatis; Lacrimosa; Domine Jesu; Sanctus; Agnus Dei; Lux aeterna; Libera me.
Daniela Nedialkova, (soprano). Ivanka Ninova, (m.soprano). Roumen Doikov, (tenor). Emil Ponorski, (bass)
Choir and Orchestra of the Sofia Opera/Ivan Marinov
Bargain Price


With recordings of this work proliferating in the catalogue, across all price ranges and featuring renowned soloists and conductors, readers may want to question whether they want to give this issue, from unknowns, shelf room. Opera lovers will note that the ‘Sofia National Orchestra and Chorus’ have featured on many distinguished recordings under the baton of the likes of Karajan, Cluytens and Semkow. Readers might also recall, that even in the darkest days of communist suppression, great voices emerged from a country with a rich musical tradition. The orchestra and choir may or may not be the ‘National’, there are no notes to even indicate recording dates or venue, but certainly the choir on this recording is one of its greatest strengths. Whilst there are no soloists of the quality of Christoff or Ghiaurov, this is, nonetheless, a performance and recording whose merits are such as to justify a single disc space at least on my shelves!

The opening ‘Requiem aeternam’ (tr.1) is so hushed that one barely notices that the performance has started. The conductor maintains that control as the sound from the first string chords through to the hushed entry of the choir. The part singing is strong with slightly reedy tenors, sonorous basses and vibrant female voices soaring out. All the while Marinov shapes and phrases the vocal lines with a sympathetic feel for the Verdian pulse. This is vital as the ‘temperature’ rises with the entry of the soloists, the tenor and bass clearly enunciating their words and the soprano’s voice taking wing above the line. In the ‘Dies irae’ (tr.2) the choir articulates with precision and the sound is captured without congestion. The trumpets in the ‘Tuba mirum’ (tr.3) are set a little too far back and would have benefited from greater immediacy. In the hushed chords of ‘Mors stupebit’ the bass, again a little too far back, reveals a steady well covered tone. The mezzo’s creamy voice, with a quick, but not unattractive, vibrato, is heard to good effect in the ‘Liber scriptus’ (tr.4), where I am again most impressed by the choir and the conductor’s taut but well shaped control of the proceedings.

The remaining sections of the Requiem allow for a more measured evaluation of the soloists as they sing in solo, duet and with the choir. The ‘Ingemisco’ (tr.8) is a famous tenor ‘tour de force’. Here, Roumen Doikov, exhibits a strong but rather dry tone with a touch of nasality; he is also inclined to chop the ends of phrases. That being said I prefer him to Philips’ latest offering with Bocelli’s constricted tone lacking any appeal! In the ‘Confutatis’, (tr.9) the bass of Emil Ponorski is strong and generally steady but somewhat lean of tone in the upper reaches of the voice. Reliable though he is, you wouldn’t breathe his name alongside compatriots Christoff (under Serafin on Testament) or Ghiaurov (on Giulini’s famous 1963 recording, now a rather dated ‘GROC’, or for Abbado on his 1980 recording for DG). In the ‘Hostias’ (tr.11, not separately tracked from the ‘Domine Jesu’) the soprano’s strong, vibrant, well-coloured middle voice is heard to good effect. Her tone does, however, become thinner as she floats the more ethereal notes above the stave. Sutherland (on Solti’s 1967 recording) and Studer (on Muti’s second EMI recording) are stronger here, but then both those versions are on two full priced discs. The true test of the soprano comes in the ‘Libera me’ (tr.15) which must be started with agitated attack before the ‘Dies irae’ returns and she must then reprise the ‘Requim aeternam’ before the outcry that launches the choral fugue. Heft, steady line and vocal intensity are required here; Daniela Nedialkova gives it a good shot without equalling some more famous names whilst matching others for meaning. She pleads for deliverance with dramatic effect using strong vibrant chest notes as she and the choir subside to Verdi’s atheistic view of redemption.

This performance has a dramatic and dynamic tautness that extends throughout to give a satisfying thought-through whole without sounding over-driven and with the benefit of fitting on one disc. It is a pity no recording details are given except that it is DDD. The sonics are set at a lower level than some and a couple of touches on the volume button gives a greater immediacy. Listening with some care to the recording quality and characteristics, I would speculate that it is of fairly recent origin. There is a little added bloom around the solo voices whilst the orchestral sound is open and the choir, set further back, are caught, as I have noted, without congestion. I have paid a lot of money to hear this work over the years, often featuring ‘name’ conductors and soloists. Not many have given me as much pleasure as this performance.

Robert J Farr

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