- Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem)
Given Herbert von Karajan's incredible and practically unrivaled tenure upon the podium of some of Europe's most prestigious orchestras, and given his close association with the operatic and choral repertoire, it should come as no surprise that Verdi's "Requiem" should appear in his discography numerous times. This particular performance, given by the the Wiener Symphoniker and the Wiener Singverein in 1954, is both historically and musically significant. In 1954, Karajan was still an extremely controversial figure whose leadership of the Vienna Symphony was met with much criticism. It was his position with this orchestra, however, that helped elevate him to his now infamous leadership of the Berlin Philharmonic. While musically this performance may not be to the exacting level of Karajan's 1967 recording with La Scala and Leontyne Price and Luciano Pavarotti as soloists, it possesses something quite special: spontaneity. This performance was originally a radio broadcast. The monaural remastering may partially mask some of the detail and subtly, but careful inspection reveals an almost unprecedented command of both orchestra and chorus. The opening is magnificently quiet -- almost inaudible -- yet the Dies Irae or Rex Tremendae demonstrates the full dynamic power of the ensemble. Perhaps not an ideal choice as a first or only recording of the "Requiem," this album is still invaluable to collectors of superb historical recordings.