- Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
The early 2010s have seen a profusion of good performances and recordings of Verdi's "Requiem" mass. This may be because the work offers operatic singers and conductors a chance to strut their stuff in a one-shot deal, without the expense of mounting an entire operatic production. Whatever the explanation, the situation is a boon for listeners, and the present album takes its place among the very best. The "Requiem" is the towering work of sacred music in the late 19th century, full of social resonances that are explored in the booklet of this release with conductor Daniel Barenboim leading the Orchestra and Chorus of the La Scala Theatre. The soloists range from excellent to spectacular, with the liquid phrasing of tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the Ingemisco (CD 1, track 8) and the smoky tone of mezzo soprano Elina Garanca throughout as special standouts. But it is the masterly choral work from Barenboim, the La Scala choristers, and chorus master Bruno Casoni that really sets this recording apart. Listen to the mighty Dies irae, with the orchestra brasses slashing through the texture in perfectly executed fanfares of doom, where Barenboim gets the choir to deliver perfectly controlled little shouts at the phrase ends. It's nothing short of thrilling, and that's the word for this release throughout. The sound, with the choir and musicians on their home ground at La Scala, is equally exciting.