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Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Messa da Requiem (1873-4)
Ilva Ligabue (soprano); Grace Bumbry (mezzo); Sándor Kónya (tenor); Raffaele Arié (bass)
Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus/Carlo Maria Giulini
rec. Royal Festival Hall, London, 26 April 1964
TV Format: NTSC 16.6 B/W. Sound: PCM Mono. IDÉALE AUDIENCE 3079968
This is a reissue DVD. Yes, it’s just a mono sound recording, it’s shot in black and white and the Royal Festival Hall acoustic is not the best. Nevertheless the fifty-year old Giulini draws out a powerfully thrilling and involving performance. His looks belie his years. He’s energetic and animated, his eyes ablaze, conveying total commitment. Every emotion is there from the terror and bombast of the Dies irae and Tuba mirum to the tender yet commanding tones of the Libera me.
Giulini is supported in this most operatic of all Requiems by the Philharmonia Choir and Orchestra on very good form, and by a quartet of fine-voiced soloists. Grace Bumbry’s lovely mezzo distinguishes throughout, no more so than in her Liberscriptus. She is partnered beautifully by Ilva Ligabue in their duets. Ligabue is most affecting in the final Libera me section. Raffaele Arié has a commanding presence especially in his darkly-drawn Mors stupebit while Sándor Kónya’s big solo, Ingemisco is beautifully expressive.
All that said, if I had to make a choice between DVD recordings of the Verdi Requiem, I would have to choose the 2001 Abbado recording with the Berlin Philharmonic. That disc also stars Gheorghiu and Alagna.
An affecting and dramatic historic mono monochrome recording.