Verdi: Requiem, Te Deum, Choruses / Toscanini

Album cover art for upc 090266029921
Label: SONY
Catalog: 602992RG
Format: CD

Herva Nelli, Fedora barbieri, Giuseppe di Stefano, Cesare Siepi, Robert Shaw Chorale, Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony Orchestra

G. Verdi: Te Deum, Messa da requiem, Vabucco: Va Pensiero, Luisa Miller: Quando le sere al placido, Hymn of the Nations

Vol. 63 of the Complete Toscanini Edition. Very rare
This has long been the standard by which other recordings of Verdi's Requiem are measured. Many others have better sound engineering, you may prefer a soloist or even the chorus (perhaps a later group trained by Robert Shaw) in one competing version or another, and it is quite possible to prefer the period-instrument sound of John Gardiner's taut interpretation. But no other conductor has matched the sheer intensity with which Arturo Toscanini translates the titanic and fearful vision of his friend Verdi into sound. This vision, which includes the end of the world, the dead rising from their graves and the assignment of each one either to heaven or to hell, is the climactic point of Verdi's epic style. The fillers are mostly interesting and inspiring, though Hymn of the Nations, a collage of national anthems, is one of Verdi's creative low points. --Joe McLellan

This recording of Verdi choral masterpieces is conducted by Arturo Toscanini in his old age when he was a popular American figure in the NBC radio broadcasts. He still packs a punch and the quality of this recording is terrific. On here are Sacred Pieces for chorus & orchestra and the Te Deum, a fitting prelude to the more large-scale and famous Requiem. The singers are in glorious form and they were popular 50's opera stars - tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano, mezzo soprano Fedora Barbieri, baritone Cesare Siepi and soprano Herva Nelli. They make the music sound exceptionally bombastic and lyrical. The anthem-like Va Pensiero from Verdi's opera Nabucco is on here and is sung with sensational musicality. The tenor aria "Quando de sere al placido" is interpreted by Jan Peerce, whose ringing voice is shimmering with bravura but he pulls out all the stops for the Hymn of the Nations, a pastiche of nationalistic songs from the Italian national anthem to "The Star Spangled Banner". For fans of Verdi, this is a must have, especially because Hymn of the Nations is such a rarity.