The Sunday Times, 18 September 2013
Hugh Canning
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Verdi — Requiem
Recorded at La Scala, Milan, in August last year, Barenboim’s Verdi bicentenary recording of the Italian composer’s most significant concert work boasts an optimum line-up of soloists for our time: Anja Harteros, Elina Garanca, Jonas Kaufmann and René Pape. (Significantly, they are not native Italians, who predominate in the Requiem discography, and Harteros and Pape are common to Antonio Pappano’s 2009 EMI recording in Rome.) In the new set’s concluding Libera me, the German soprano sounds in marginally less fresh voice, although she conveys the anxiety of the soul in torment as vividly as ever. Kaufmann’s grainy baritonal tenor might come as something of a shock to those expecting, say, the Mediterranean warmth of Pappano’s Rolando Villazon, but he sounds more technically secure than the Mexican tenor. Garanca’s lush mezzo sounds like an Amneris in waiting in the Lux aeterna; Pape is a rock in the bass soloist’s pronouncements. Barenboim takes a more flexible view of tempo than Pappano. If I just prefer the EMI recording, it is because Rome’s Sala Sinopoli contains the climaxes more comfortably than La Scala. But I wouldn’t want to be without Kaufmann’s searing Ingemisco and moving, introverted Hostias.

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