When it comes to choral works, Mozart's Requiem is up there with the finest and is also one of the greats of any genre of music. All three DVD performances of this work(to personal knowledge that is) are truly excellent, so much so that it is difficult to decide which is the best of the three. If there was any choice, best overall is probably Karl Bohm's, with its dream cast team of soloists, though Georg Solti's is lively and very impassioned and Leonard Bernstein's is perhaps the most personal. Under review here is Bernstein's, and it is an incredibly powerful and moving performance that provides all the emotional wallop that Mozart's music has and should have. With the un-fussy and silent entrance and exit, the kissing of the soloists at the end and whether it is a dedication to his late wife or a reflection of mortality it came across as very personal, and it was most affecting to see. The performance is well-shot, never rigid or trying to do too much, and compliments the magnificent building the Requiem is performed in. The orchestra's sound is fiercely rich in the more intense movements like Dies Irae and Rex Tremendae and of a gleaming beauty in movements like the Lacrimosa and Requiem Aeternam, so the momentum of the music is never lost. The trombone solo at the start of Tuba Mirum is exposed and like the Achilles Heel of the Requiem, but is beautifully played. The choir sing with total commitment and sound lovely, the contrasts seen from Kyrie to Lacrimosa are clear and they are well served by the venue's acoustics. The acoustics are reverberant but unlike some performances of the Verdi Requiem seen recently that doesn't come across as a hindrance. Bernstein's conducting is very impressive and authoritative too, his tempos are slow- true of a lot of late Bernstein- but for movements like the Lacrimosa that isn't inappropriate and it doesn't veer too much into heavy-handedness. The four soloists are top drawer. Marie McLaughlin's soprano is pure and radiant, she blends beautifully with the other three and soars in her solo movements. Maria Ewing sings her usual creamy firmness, Jerry Hadley sounds youthful and lyrical and Cornelius Hauptmann's voice is resonant and noble, perfect for the beginning of the Tuba Mirum and almost Sarastro-like in quality. Overall, an incredibly powerful performance of a master-work. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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