Verdi - Requiem
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Cat No: SBT21494
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 24th February 2014
ConductorCarlo Maria Giulini
It is said that in the ‘Dies irae’ Victor de Sabata would take the baton in both hands and bring it down like an executioner’s axe. Giulini’s baton motion in the ‘Dies irae’ was more like a scythe. In other places the beat was unusually expressive, a skill honed in the opera house where Giulini had worked with distinction during the 1950s. We can hear this in the way in which the singing of the tenor Luigi Ottolini (1925–2002) is so beautifully nursed, the phrasing exquisitely moulded. An accomplished tenor but never a big ‘name’, Ottolini was precisely the kind of soloist with whom Giulini liked to work in the Requiem. The bass Ivo Vinco (b.1927) and the mezzo–soprano Fiorenza Cossotto (b.1935) were also young singers near the start of their careers. (They were in fact husband and wife. They had married in 1958.)
The pairing of Cossotto and Joan Sutherland was another successful musical marriage. Sutherland had not exactly appeared from nowhere when she gave her now famous performances of the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in February 1959. London audiences had known how good she was since the mid–1950s.
This Edinburgh performance was also a triumph for the Philharmonia Chorus and its director Wilhelm Pitz. Walter Legge had founded the chorus in 1957 as the choral complement to his already prestigious Philharmonia Orchestra. It had made its international festival debut the previous September singing Handel’s Messiah under Sir Thomas Beecham in Lucerne. Now it found itself in Edinburgh making its own distinctive contribution to a performance which one writer described as being ‘as near to perfection as I ever hope to experience’.
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