Classical Voice North America, October 6, 2013
By Richard S. Ginell
New Verdi Discs for his 200th birthday
First and most imposing is a new Verdi Requiem from La Scala (Decca, two CDs), led by its distinctly un-Italianate general music director, Daniel Barenboim. Now Barenboim’s Requiem is an interesting case, forVerdi Requiem this performance seems to have deep roots in his lifelong immersion into the Central European Germanic classics. The tempos tend to be on the slowish side, the textures heavy, even a bit smudged at times – especially in the Sanctus. But the architecture of the lengthy Dies Irae gradually becomes clear as Barenboim patiently bides his time, lets the rhythm carry the Day of Judgment outbursts forward, and builds to an overwhelming climax in the Lacrimosa. Also, Barenboim is able to get the La Scala chorus to produce effects well out of the ordinary, like the chilling near-hissing after the start of the Dies Irae. Both male voices are magnificent, although there isn’t much contrast between Jonas Kaufmann’s almost baritonal tenor and René Pape’s sonorous bass-baritone. Mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca sounds luminous, soprano Anja Harteros fervently suggests fear in the Libera Me. I wouldn’t say that this live performance has quite as potent a charge as some of the on-the-spot reviews claim, but it is a formidable one.

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