The Sydney Morning Herald, November 16, 2013
Barney Zwartz
Verdi Requiem (Decca)
In his first CD as music director of Milan's La Scala, Daniel Barenboim gives a gorgeous yet refined, meditative and spiritual account of what has been ironically called Verdi's finest opera - his Requiem Mass. Rossini, in whose honour Verdi proposed the project, would surely have been thrilled had he heard it. In soprano Anja Harteros, tenor Jonas Kaufmann, mezzo Elina Garanca and bass Rene Pape, Barenboim enjoys surely the finest quartet of soloists recorded since Solti had Sutherland, Pavarotti, Horne and Talvela 45 years ago.

The big moments, such as the opening of the Dies Irae or the trumpets in the tuba mirum, are very big indeed. Contrast that with the hushed intensity Pape gets in Mors stupebit. Indeed, one of the glories of this account is the way Barenboim builds the drama with wonderful dynamic breadth, subtlety and even restraint. Jonas Kaufmann is thrilling in his soaring entry to the Ingemisco, the emotion richly conveyed, and don't miss the splendour of the women's voices floating in harmony above the orchestra in the Recordare. La Scala's chorus and orchestra are idiomatic and intimate, and the recording is outstanding. One quibble: Barenboim's spacious reading means the work cannot quite fit on a single CD (he takes 86 minutes), so it comes on two - with no filler. That feels a bit like short change.

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