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This recording is one of the best Requiems in my opinion, but Decca’s remastering does not do justice to it; this remastering places both the voices and orchestra right in front with a lot of detail.
With sincere respect to the above accounts of this recording, I'm afraid I must beg to differ. Yes, there are many great aspects to this Reiner recording, but I can't help sensing a "Reiner can do no wrong" ubiquity in the above reviews. Brahms once described this work as a genuine masterpiece, but when listening to this performance, I find Reiner and the VPO not entirely simpatico. As a conductor, Reiner was a hardened and callous autocrat, and endless stories abound about his heartless compulsion to “divide” the musicians during his despotic reign over the Chicago Symphony. For myself, I am certainly a great fan of Reiner, but not blindly so, and often find his performances electric but not warm and fervent, of the likes of Munch, Mengelberg or Furtwangler. Also just as famous are the members of the VPO, who are not intimidated by any conductor, let alone Reiner. This orchestra has a history, even at the date of this recording, of well over a century, and all conductors know about the "arrogance" of this orchestra when trying to institute sweeping changes to the interpretation of standard repertoire like a Beethoven or Brahms Symphony, or – in this instance - Verdi's Requiem. Despite days of screaming and baton-throwing, you mostly end up conducting it their way! It has also been well documented that Reiner had serious brawls and disputes with the orchestra on this very recording, and for me, I can sense this in the push and pull of the performance. Sometimes Reiner is wanting to move forward, but the orchestra digs its heels in. And for me, that famous VPO string sound I find not at all convincing for Verdi. For myself, and indeed many people, the pinnacle of this masterpiece is the live performance of Toscanini’s from 1940. It ALSO has Bjorling, but for me, in much finer fettle. Bjorling – sadly an alcoholic - died suddenly at 49, only months after the Reiner recording, whereas this Toscanini performance dates from 20 years earlier, when Bjorling's voice was at his zenith. This performance will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, while Toscanini's grasp and concept of the structure is gobsmacking in the extreme (something not as evident in the Reiner recording). The performance is at times truly terrifying, while at others, meltingly lyrical, and Toscanini reveals the music like God would unfurl the universe to us. Also, the voices of Milanov, Castagna and Moscona are right up there with Bjorling’s. Equally horripilating! Make no mistake, the Reiner is still a fine recording of this divine work, and as a DSD download, I would still highly recommend it. However, if you wish to truly experience this work in its richest glory, magnificence, and triumph, the Toscanini 1940 version, though sadly not in such gorgeous HDTT sound, but still pretty damned good for 1940, is easily available. Warning - there is more than one version by Toscanini, and though I know only this live 1940 version, by all accounts, it is the greatest of all his performances of this Requiem. Oh - did I mention Toscanini knew Verdi personally, and spent copious hours discussing the interpretation of his music? Gil Sullivan
Solid sound. good performance
This DSD 128 remastering of the tape is just about a good as it gets .... that is to say, this genuinely legendary recording comes across in high resolution sound that to date is surely unmatched. The quartet of soloists can hardly be surpassed as the soprano is a vitally young Leontyne Price, the mezzo/alto is Rosalind Elias whose gold star career hardly needs more a mention to awe us, tenor Jussi Bjoerling caught in finest voice, and bass baritone Giorgio Tozzi who also was among the best singers of his generation. Besides the quartet we are also profoundly fortunate to have the Vienna Society of the Friends of Music Chorus plus a golden stereo age Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Fritz Reiner at the helm inspires everyone to their best. Some day Japan may get around to re-releasing this recording in DSD disc as has happened to our delight with Reiner's Chicago Beethoven .... but until then ... and perhaps even after? ... this edition will be as heartfelt and glorious as we could ever ever ever wish. Releases like this leave one beholden to acknowledge in retrospect what a musical giant Reiner was, along with his soloists, chorus and orchestra. Bravo to the engineering in the Sofiensaal which captured this superb performance and bequeathed it to aeons of audiophiles as well as ordinary listeners. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo, Bravo
Simply put, this recording sits in the Pantheon of great recordings of the Verdi Requiem. There have been many other recordings of the work, but the Reiner effort is nothing short of grand opera beautifully realized. And, on its technical merits alone, the recording is one of the finest in the history of the grammophone. The HDTT download is superlative in every respect. A masterpiece of both the art and the science of audio recording.
Title: Verdi Messa da Requiem
Artist(s): Conductor – Fritz Reiner
Orchestra – Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Bass Vocals – Giorgio Tozzi
Chorus – Society Of The Friends Of Music, Vienna
Mezzo-soprano Vocals – Rosalind Elias
Soprano Vocals – Leontyne Price
Tenor Vocals – Jussi Bjoerling
Recording Info: Transferred from 15ips 2-track tape
Producer: Erik Smith Engineer: James Brown
Recorded by Decca for RCA at Sofeinsaal, Vienna, May & June 1960
1 Requiem And Kyrie 12:03
2 Dies Irae Part 1 14:36
3 Dies Irae (Concluded) 25:07
4 Offertorium 11:59
5 Sanctus 2:45
6 Agnus Dei 5:33
7 Lux Aeterna 7:07
8 Libera Me 16:04
Total Time: 1:35:14