This 1991 performance of Mozart's Requiem may not quite be as personal as the Bernstein performance(1988) or quite have the perfect dream cast like Bohm's(1971), however it is an outstanding performance still. And because it is commemorating the 200 year anniversary of Mozart's ultimely death it is still a special one as well. In regard to the DVD, the picture quality could have been sharper and the sound occasionally lacks resonance. But this is not the DVD we're talking about here, it's this performance, which was very moving and brilliantly performed. It is done in a very welcoming venue with good acoustics, neither too dry or reverberant, doing justice to one of the all-time great choral works and even one of the best pieces ever written. And musically when it does this well at transporting you to another world it is very hard to find faults without sounding nit-picky. The orchestra balance beautifully and play like angels throughout, the fiery intensity of Dies Irae contrasted with the heartfelt pathos of Lacrimosa can be heard clearly. The chorus are one of the high-points of the entire performance, it is just remarkable at how a chorus of a large number could sound so together and cohesive, and they seamlessly match the orchestra in intensity and pathos. Solti's conducting is enigmatic and lively, never in-your-face, with well-judged tempos that never undermine the mood of each movement(apart from the Lacrimosa being taken slightly too quickly). The four soloists are all outstanding, with special mention going to Rene Pape who sings with his usual warm beautiful bass voice and silky phrasing, having the right authority for the role whether thundering or sympathetic. It was almost like hearing him sing Sarastro which is not inappropriate for the Requiem at all. Cecilia Bartoli is also wonderful, she has the right vibrant urgency and sings with her usual smoky richness and intelligent musicianship, particularly in the Introitis and Benedictus. There is little of the try-too-hard quality that crept in in some of her later performances, though she's always been a commanding and charming artist. Vinson Cole is the least familiar of the soloists but just as hugely impressive, singing with bright lyricism that is most appealing. We mustn't forget Arleen Auger either, a great artist who died tragically of a brain tumour only two years later when she had more to give, hers is a deeply affecting performance which shows effortless purity of tone, beautiful phrasing and musicality that is on par and even better than her colleagues. To conclude, brilliantly performed and moving, while the Bernstein and Bohm performances are slightly superior Solti's is still on a very similar level quality-wise. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?