Verdi: Requiemby Andrea Bocelli
Giuseppe Verdi composed his Requiem late in life to commemorate the death of a dear friend, Alessandro Manzoni, the 19th-century novelist and poet. Since the Requiem's earliest performances, it has been criticized for its thrillingly dramatic character -- a quality unbefitting a religious work, according to some detractors. But it is precisely the operatic nature of the Requiem -- along with the sorrowful, deeply felt circumstances of its creation -- that makes it so compelling. The work's Latin text is highly dramatic, describing, for example, in terse, rhyming couplets the wrathful day of the Apocalypse. And Verdi, for once unhindered by the practicalities of staging an opera, unleashed the full range of his vivid musical palette, using at one particularly intense moment an ensemble of trumpets sounding the call to raise the dead for Judgment Day. Valery Gergiev, who conducts the Kirov Orchestra and Chorus in this performance, clearly appreciates Verdi's uniquely dramatic style, choosing to direct in a full-bodied, sculptural manner rather than with a subtle, painterly approach to the ensemble sound. And the sonic effect can be arresting: the cannonlike boom of the bass drum in the opening to the "Dies Irae" (Day of Wrath), or the massive brass chords punctuating the "Rex Tremendae Majestatis" (King of Terrible Majesty). Of the soloists, Renée Fleming and Andrea Bocelli are the star attractions here, and they perform at the caliber we would expect from them. But a more delightful discovery comes from the bass and mezzo soloists: Ildebrando D'Arcangelo and Olga Borodina. Both have rich, sonorous voices, and their moments in the soloists' sun stand out in this truly gripping performance of Verdi's great work.
- Release Date:
- Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem) - Giuseppe Verdi - Clive Bennett - Olga Borodina - Renée Fleming - Valery Gergiev - Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Chorus - Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra - Ildebrando d'Arcangelo - Andrea Bocelli - Laura Lusotarinen
Performance CreditsAndrea Bocelli Primary Artist
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Valery Gergiev's account of Verdi's "Requiem" is recommended with reservations. From the opening, it is obvious that Andrea Bocelli is woefully miscast and is seemingly digitally enhanced. My main complaint about this album is that Renee Fleming abandons the value of notes recklessly. With Fleming, half notes are suddenly dotted and eighth notes seem to have hidden fermatas. In Fleming's opening "Kyrie," she should stop fter the C-sharp of the "e" in "Kyrie." Fleming plows right through the dotted half(as does Bocelli on the same note. in his case, an E natural is scored). The chorus with its Slavic intonations never really sound like a polished unit. Moreover, they sound like a meshing of voices. This is not good. Gergiev's tempi are fine and the orchestral playing is very beautiful save Gergiev's treatment of rests and dynamics. The true standouts of this piece should be the tenor and soprano. However, it needs to be said that Olga Borodina and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo steal the show and turn in fine performances even though D'Arcangelo is more of a baritone. D'Arcangelo's reading of "Confutatis Maledictis" is especially moving. The true gem of this opus, for me, has always been the tenor solo "Ingemisco." In Bocelli's hands, the piece is not recommended. Bocelli's voice here and in all parts of the score strains and is virtually exhausted on any note above the staff. The high B flats "Ingemisco" call for a true tenor. Bocelli's vocals are suited for popular music, not Verdi. One so desperately wishes for a Roberto Alagna or any of the up and coming tenors from Latin and South America. The "Offertory" is a gem. Fleming's closing in the "Offertory" is a stunner and she makes the most of it. Borodina is pitch perfect in "Lux aeterna" and emits a glorious sound. Fleming's "Libera me" is interesting, to say the least. Fleming is over the top and offers too much. The listener is in for trouble with the first "per ignem" ending in high A flat. Again, Fleming abandons the value of the note and holds it for too long. In this piece, Fleming does get lost within the chorus once or twice. Fleming acquits herself on the final high C only to abandon the value of the half note (a natural C)of the "na" in "aeterna." Fleming's voice lingers long after the chorus. In the score, they should end together. While not a great recording, this "Requiem" is worth a listen.
The Verdi Requiem is simply one of my favorite pieces of music. And I couldn't wait to hear this recording. But it doesn't deliver. Bocceli, as wonderful, resonant, rich, and inspiring as his voice is, can't match the discipline and training of those he sings with. He simply doesn't have the vocal force or power, precision, and tone to truly hold his own. Between his sliding into the pitch style and the suble differences in pronunciation of the Latin text, it's not a compelling recording.