- Libera me, for soprano, chorus & orchestra (part of collaborative Requiem for Rossini)
- Ave Maria, for voice & strings (or piano)
- Sacred Pieces (4), for chorus & orchestra (Quattro pezzi sacri)
Giuseppe Verdi's sacred choral music has all been recorded often enough, but it represents a distinctive corner of his output and makes better sense when put together. Some of it is operatic, but some of it isn't. The music reflects in various ways Verdi's own ambivalent-at-best attitude toward religion; it is spiritual without being conventional, and the operatic passages often bespeak a humanistic approach to the text. Much of the music stands or falls on the choir, and here the venerable Chorus of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia excels. Aided by the firm hand of conductor Antonio Pappano, it realizes the full dynamic range from the mysterious Ave Maria from the "Four Sacred Pieces" of Verdi's great old age to the thunder and lightning of the "Libera Me" (1869). The latter work was part of a Messa per Rossini, a collaborative requiem mass on the occasion of Rossini's death, suggested by Verdi and executed by him and a dozen other composers, all of them entirely forgotten. Verdi's "Libera Me" was reworked for his own "Requiem" five years later, and it's interesting both as a first draft and simply as a compact piece of great Verdi that ought to be performed more often. Soprano Maria Agresta lacks a sufficiently dramatic quality, but she's there on all the quiet high notes, and really there's very little to cavil about on this fine recording, whose engineering matches its artistic ambitions.