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  Telarc -
  Berlioz: Requiem - Spano
  Berlioz: Requiem Op. 5

Frank Lopardo (tenor)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Robert Spano (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 5 show all

Review by thepilot August 29, 2004 (7 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This is certainly a fantastic recording -sound wise- but only if heard in multichannel, where the soundstage spreads spectacularly in all directions. The stereo mix is very very good, but you must understand that this kind of music begs to be recorded and reproduced with a full 5.1 system. 5 stars sound quality in multichannel, but only 3,5 stars in stereo even if you have big speakers (Martin Logan Ascent i), and even then, you have to listen to the 2 channel version in very loud volume if the sound is to be clear and full, and it is difficult to avoid overload if the whole thing is squeezed through 2 speakers only.
The performance is not bad, but after Spano's splendid Vaughan Williams and Runnicle's exemplary Carmina Burana in Atlanta, I was waiting for a rendition at least as good as Shaw's legendary Grammy winning performance with the same forces. All the tunes are in place, but the performance -especially from the orchestra- is well behaved to say the least, and at times really low voltage.
If you can find the old Atlanta Requiem treasure the performance and Shaw's genius in choral works. Otherwise Telarc continues to give lessons to the industry about how the big orchestral/choral warhorses need to be recorded. (Greater dynamic range would be welcome, but Telarc seems to achieve that only in Cincinatti and not always in Atlanta. I wonder why.)

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Review by September 18, 2004 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well, Hurwitz and Sjveda call this performance 'dull.' I disagree. Getting right to the point, Spano holds back the battery of tympani players in the Dies Irae section so that one can hear what's going on in the choir, which is actually quite musical. There is also a refreshing distinction made clear between tympani and bass drums, (the latter having some interesting rhythms I've never heard before), but be prepared for a more dryish and militaristic massed-percussion sound. So: while the 'big moment' is not the hysterical cacaphony we're used to, the all-around new-found clarity is a pay-off in it's own way, and the volume of sound is, well...sufficiently volumous to say the least. Elsewhere, the choral singing during reflective moments is gorgeous. The orchestra plays vividly for the most part, especially the winds, sounding delightfully reedy. Passing beauties are tended to, something I missed in Spano's Vaughan Williams. The arpeggiated strings under the final Amens of the Angus Dei are handled in a way that is quite touching. The Lacrymosa is another favorite moment; the last couple of minutes are some of the most inspired music ever written, IMHO; though it takes awhile for Spano to generate the required heat. Gong-lovers rejoice though, you'll feel it in your chest as the mov't ends! Complaints? Of course: In the Dies Irae those off-stage trumpets could have been just a little more strident and intimidating, though in the text they *are* referred to as "wonderous trumpets." The upward rushes of strings that signal each key-change in the earlier section of the same mov't could have been more intense. The tenor soloist's voice in the Sanctus is just a little heavy for the part. In the end, I still find the overall performance to be a rewarding experience--the intimate moments are excellent, and the 'big' moments contain musical revelations, which are much more rewarding to me upon repeated hearings then a muddy mass of drums. Not the only Requiem I would own, but certainly one I'll keep in my collection. How is the sound you ask? In surround, spectacular. Depth and width of soundstage is uncanny, rear effects, (the extra batteries of trumpets), emerge thrillingly, yet remain part of the hall's acoustic. Magical.

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Review by jmvilleneuve December 29, 2005 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I maybe a little harder on this recording than other reviewers maybe because this is one of my favorite pieces and I had (too?) high expectations. This is a recording that is hard to grade because in some part it is marvelous (tuba mirum) in others it is way below the in terms of both recordings and interpretation (lacrymosa).

One area where I will seem to take the "high ground" is the interpretation. There are too many indications in the part that are ignored by the conductor. In fact in some sections (Hostia, Lacrymosa, Agnus Dei) Mr Spano seems to be doing the reverse of what is written. Just the most glaring example, a completely vulgar ralentendo in the Lacrymosa (7:40 Qua resurget judicandus homo reus...) where Berlioz explicitely calls for a constant tempo.

The sound take can also be fuzzy at times and in particular I would have wished for better imaging on the chorus. In many passages it is heard to hear the multiple musical lines.

But enough on the bad stuff. The tubar mirum brass "fanfares" (if I can call something so divine by that name) are absolutely wonderful and a clear demonstration of the power of a muli-channel recording to re-produce much more accurately all the intricacies of 4 brass choirs answering each others and creating complex patterns of sound. This section is later repeated with an even greater majesty with the addition of male voices. This movement alone is worth the price of this SACD and is good demo material.

So although this is far from perfect, I still recommend anybody curious about this music to buy this recording.

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Works: 1  

Hector Berlioz - Grande messe des morts (Requiem), H 75