Review by gonzostick July 31, 2008 (16 of 19 found this review helpful)
|AT LONG LAST! WE GET TO HEAR THE FIRST REALLY GOOD RECORDING OF THE BERLIOZ REQUIEM THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE HEARD!!!
I own all the surround versions of this music in SACD and DVD-audio formats. Much as I like the Norrington on SACD, this one is the best, musically. The original LPs and RBCD issues, while good, did not do justice to what the Philips engineers had captured on their master tapes at Westminster Cathedral in November of 1969. The Spano on Telarc, while good, is way too polite for the fire and brimstone this work really needs. His also lacks the acoustics this work needs to envelop the listener, not to mention Spano is tame, when compared to Davis. Davis can be completely sweet and lyrical, then suddenly ferocious, while always succeeding in maintaining the long lines of musical argument.
This is wonderful. Colin Davis has made a specialty of this work for many, many years. The best thing about the wrap-around sound of this disc is that it reproduces the sound of this amazing piece in an acoustic that does it justice. No, it does NOT have Telarc-size bass! The perspective is more distant, but it captures the sound of inspired performers making impassioned music and responding to the work AND the acoustics of the space in which they are performing the work. The tempos are unfailingly musical, while never dragging, and the performance works on all levels. The acoustics, though not mentioned in the Pentatone booklet, are those of Westminster Cathedral, according to the Matthew B. Tepper Internet site which lists all of the recordings of the work.
The performance is subtle but has great ferocity when needed in the big moments. When the men push to sing through the barrage of percussion and brass in the Tuba Mirum, they cut loose with wonderful energy that is quite hair-raising. As the other sections of the choir join in, they respond with the same level of energy and purpose. The engineers resist the temptation to change the dynamics of the work, so the dynamic range of the piece is pretty much on the tapes as transferred. The Lacrymosa manages to have both rhythmic precision AND long, singing lines, with amazing bite when needed. The counterpoint of the orchestral accompaniment and the syncopations are pointed and really well-proportioned, so the rhythm just blooms around the superb choral work.
The recording is 4.0 surround. The best way to hear it is with matching, full-range speakers around the listening area. The bass response has NOT been ticked up. It sounds like huge forces in a huge building, enveloping the listener in waves of sound. There is plenty of clarity for the smaller moments, but the building sings right along with the Godly racket when the full forces are unleashed.
This classic recording has been brought back in the format that finally does it justice. Do not buy this unless you intend to open it wide on the system and let it roll through the house!
If you love this piece, as I do, and you want to hear one of the great recordings of this work in the best format to ever do it justice, this release is self-recommending!
GET THIS and SUPPORT PENTATONE Classics! BRAVO to all concerned, in 1969 AND 2008!!! PLEASE, PentaTone, give us more of the Davis recordings from Philips in Boston, especially the COMPLETE Sibelius with that great, gleaming Boston Symphony Orchestra!!!
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