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Origin Gregorian Chant

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Gregorian Chant

Composer: Gregorian Chant, Pierre Capdevielle

Conductor: Wim van Gerven

Label: Sony - #66278 Audio CD (June 27, 1995)

 

 

Composer: Gregorian Chant

Conductor: Richard J. Pugsley

Performer: Br. Mark Bushnell, Wendy Catlin, et al.

Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores - Audio CD (January 23, 1996)

 

 

Composer: Gregorian Chant, Anonymous

Performer: Maurice Bevan, John Buttrey, et al.

Label: Harmonia Mundi Franc - #190235 Audio CD (February 12, 1992)

Number of Discs: 3

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Alfred Deller usually is credited with single-handedly bringing about the revival of interest in early music in this century. The music on these '70s-era recordings is about as early as you can get, originating as early as the 10th century, and much of it used in liturgical functions until recent times. Rather than just a collection of random chants, Deller and his choir of seven male voices offer several programs organized into themes, some of which are wedding music, chants to the Virgin, and funeral elegies. Also included on this three-disc set is a complete mass, procession music for Vespers, and a Medieval liturgical drama, the "Prague Easter Play." These fine singers are well suited to ensemble performance--although aficionados of chant may question the prominence of the countertenor voices, namely Deller and his son, in this repertoire. --David Vernier

Hector Berlioz

Composer: Hector Berlioz, Arrigo Boito, et al.

Conductor: Robert Shaw

Performer: John Aler, John Cheek

Label: Telarc - #80109 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
As one would expect, Robert Shaw's rendition of the Requiem is magnificently polished, with choral singing that is beyond compare. The drama is not quite as pronounced as with Davis and Munch, but the work's majestic architecture stands clearly revealed. For once, Telarc's thunderous, bass-heavy pickup adds something to the sonic picture. --Ted Libbey

 

Composer: Hector Berlioz

Conductor: Leonard Bernstein

Performer: Stuart Burrows

Label: Sony - #47526 Audio CD (July 28, 1992)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
Berlioz' Requiem needs a performance of spontaneous brilliance and almost manic intensity to come off. The reason is simple. The big movements--the Dies Irae sequence and Lachrymosa--use a huge chorus and a full orchestra including four brass bands (stationed in the four corners of the concert hall), eight sets of timpani (10 players), and additional percussion. After that, everything else sounds anti-climatic, unless the conductor somehow manages to keep the tension flowing through the quiet (and, let's not kid ourselves, dull) bits. Leonard Bernstein certainly manages the impossible, though God only knows how he does it. The recording helps--it really captures a sense of large forces in a big space, while projecting the aura of mystery that the intimate moments need if they're going to work. --David Hurwitz

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Composer: Johann Kaspar Kerll, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Conductor: Erik Van Nevel

Performer: James Bowman, Max van Egmond, et al.

Label: Ricercar - #81063 Audio CD (November 1, 1995)

 

 

Composer: Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Conductor: Jordi Savall

Performer: Angelo Bartoletti, Eunice Moreira Brandao, et al.

Label: Alia Vox - #9825 Audio CD (December 10, 2002)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Biber's grand Requiem in A Major was probably written for the funeral of his employer, Archbishop Maximilian of Salzburg. It is a celebratory piece, with trumpets (and timpani added by Savall) and rich orchestration, quite suitable for a heavenbound soul. The quieter moments ("Sanctus") are just as effective as the big ones ("Dies irae"). The CD's opener, a 13-minute "Battalia" for instruments only, is amazingly colorful and contains some weird, entertaining dissonances. The performances by La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations are ideal. Biber seems to be coming into his own lately, and the recent CDs devoted to his work are very exciting. He was apparently a virtuoso who enjoyed making big statements; they deserve to be heard. Lovers of "high Baroque" music will be moved and delighted. --Robert Levine

Johannes Brahms

Composer: Johannes Brahms

Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner

Performer: Rodney Gilfry, Charlotte Margiono

Label: Polygram Records - #432140 Audio CD (May 10, 1991)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com

Musical settings of the Requiem understandably encompass a vast expressive gamut, from Mozart's fear and trembling to the seraphic gentleness of Fauré. But the focus in Brahms's German Requiem--his first large-scale composition--is not so much on the departed as on those left behind and the work of memory. In lieu of the traditional Latin liturgy, Brahms uses texts culled from the Lutheran Bible that range from despair at our mortal condition to the solace offered by faith. John Elliott Gardiner and his forces here attempt to replicate the orchestral sound and style of Brahms's own time, using period bowing practices for the strings and mellow Viennese horns, to cite a few examples. The result is a magnificent and deeply moving performance that features excellent integration of the orchestra and chorus. Gardiner molds a huge crescendo of imposing terror in the funereal march of the second movement but always keeps the textures clear and balanced. He manages to convey both the symphonic scope of this work and its polyphonic imagination--Brahms looked back to Baroque as well as Renaissance sources and in the process created a rich and potent new style. Charlotte Margiono's rosy soprano is angelic but at the same time tinged with a sense of longing for what has been lost--which makes the musical consolation offered by the end of the seventh movement all the more profound. Baritone Rodney Gilfry brings warmth and passionate phrasing to his solos. And presiding over everything is Gardiner's masterful sense of the work's larger structure: the path traced by Brahms is revealed with great dignity but is free of sentimentality. This recording belongs in any basic collection. --Thomas May

 

Composer: Johannes Brahms

Conductor: New York Philharmonic

Performer: Kurt Masur, Hakan Hagegard

Label: Elektra/Asylum - #98413 Audio CD (November 7, 1995)

 

 

Composer: Johannes Brahms

Conductor: Robert Shaw

Performer: Arleen Auger, Richard Stilwell

Label: Telarc - #80092 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Robert Shaw, despite being a fine choral conductor, was often a pretty boring interpreter--like most choral conductors, in fact. However, there were times that he really put everything together, particularly in his many fine recordings for Telarc, and this is one of the best. Of course, it helps that the music itself is largely pretty subdued, but Shaw directs a performance of exemplary clarity and genuine nobility of utterance. Gorgeous recorded sound too. --David Hurwitz

Benjamin Britten

Composer: Benjamin Britten

Performer: Peter Pears, Galina Vishnievskaya, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #414383

Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
The composer's 1963 recording remains, after 35 years, the preferred account, unequaled in its scope and emotional intensity. It brings together the three soloists for whom the work was written, chosen not only because of their artistry but because they represented three of the nations most deeply scarred by World War II--the Soviet Union, England, and Germany. Benjamin Britten holds the vast forces together, and the superbly engineered recording captures with chilling exactitude the power and the nuance of his ardent, visionary interpretation. --Ted Libbey

 

Composer: Benjamin Britten

Performer: Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Benjamin Luxon, et al.

Label: Telarc - #80157

Audio CD (July 24, 1989)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Only a conductor of Robert Shaw's experience could hope to shed new light on a score the composer himself had so convincingly presented on record. Shaw finds a meditative gentleness in the music that is new and touching, and imparts a distant, sad feeling to the climaxes that deepens their ambivalence. The solo singing is on a par with that of Britten's recording--the diction is in fact better--and the choral singing is suffused with Shaw's unique magic. Telarc's digital recording is a bona fide sonic spectacular. --Ted Libbey

Gavin Bryars

Composer: Gavin Bryars

Performer: Gavin Bryars, Richard Campbell, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #462511

Audio CD (January 12, 1999)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Gavin Bryars's Cadman Requiem is a somber work, even allowing for its genre. Written for Bill Cadman, a longtime friend of Bryars who died in the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing, the piece makes miles of thoughtful power out of wavering, long string tones that act as a backdrop for astounding vocals from the Hilliard Ensemble. The slowed physical motions emphasize the piece's gravity, and the strings are scripted just in line with the voices, favoring the low end with bruising effect. There are fearful, almost panic-rich moments, but each recedes into long tenor-range lines that stretch to the sonic horizon. Having written such similarly somber pieces as Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet and The Sinking of the Titanic, Bryars is no stranger to extended works; but here he juxtaposes his Requiem with eight love poems from Etel Adnan. Sung by soprano Valdine Anderson, these works get their force from the casual eroticism and passion of their language as much as from the vocal delivery. Their opulence is unmistakable and strangely in line with the CD's opener. The guitar-framed episodes of "Epilogue from Wonderlawn," which the composer scripted for choreographer Laurie Booth, close out this magnificent collection. What excellent proof it offers that Bryars, who's labeled "difficult" by many, can write for the broadest of audiences and still be meaningful. --Andrew Bartlett

 

Joan Cererols

Performer(s): Cererols, La Capella Reial, Jordi Savall

Label: Astree

Audio CD (February 8, 2000)

 

André Campra

Composer: André Campra

Conductor: Jean-Claude Malgoire

Performer: Gilles Ragon, Dominique Visse, et al.

Ensemble: La Grande Écurie et La Chambre du Roy

Label: Virgin Records - #61528

Audio CD (April 6, 1999)

Number of Discs: 1

 

Manuel Cardoso

Composer: Manuel Cardoso

Label: Gimell - #21 Audio CD (February 12, 2002)

 

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Composer: Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Conductor: Hervé Niquet

Label: Naxos - #553173

Audio CD (May 1, 1995)

 

 

Luigi Cherubini

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi, Luigi Cherubini

Conductor: Philharmonia Orchestra, Ambrosian Opera Chorus - John McCarthy

Performer: Riccardo Muti, Renata Scotto, et al.

Label: Emi Classics - #68613 Audio CD (September 10, 1996)

Number of Discs: 2

 

 

Composer: Luigi Cherubini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Performer: Oralia Dominguez, Michel Roux, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #457744 Audio CD (May 11, 1999)

 

Domenico Cimarosa

Composer: Domenico Cimarosa

Conductor: Silvano Frontalini

Performer: Ireneusz Jakubowski, Barbara Krahel, et al.

Label: Bongiovanni - #2088 Audio CD (March 15, 1993)

 

Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf

Composer: Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf

Conductor: Georg Ratzinger

Performer: Birgit Calm, Hanna Farinelli, et al.

Label: Ars Musici - #1158 Audio CD (April 16, 1996)

 

Gaetano Donizetti

Composer: Gaetano Donizetti

Conductor: Alexander Rahbari

Performer: Jaroslava Horska, Marcello Rosca, et al.

Label: Koch Discover Int'l - #920519 Audio CD (March 17, 1998)

 
 

Maurice Duruflé

Composer: Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Duruflé

Conductor: Robert Shaw

Performer: Judith Blegen, James Morris

Label: Telarc - #80135 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Number of Discs: 1

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
The chorus is at center of Shaw's reading of the score, presumably the more lightly scored 1893 version that Fauré‚ himself created (Telarc does not specify). The account flows very well, and the work of both soloists is highly satisfying, particularly Judith Blegen's airy soprano in Pie Jesu. The recording dates from 1985-86 and is one of Telarc's best, with excellent presence overall and real bass in the organ. --Ted Libbey

Antonin Dvorak

Composer: Antonin Dvorak

Conductor: Zdenek Macal

Performer: John Aler, Wendy Hoffman

Label: Delos Records - #3260 Audio CD (April 25, 2000)

Number of Discs: 2

 

 

Composer: Antonin Dvorak

Conductor: Istvan Kertesz, Nicholas Cleobury, et al.

Performer: Ambrosian Singers, Robert Ilosfalvy, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #448089 Audio CD (June 10, 1997)

 

Pedro de Escobar

Composer: Pedro de Escobar, Francisco de Penalosa, et al.

Label: Emi Records [All429] - #45328 Audio CD (May 20, 2000)

   

Gabriel Faure

Composer: Gabriel Faure

Conductor: Andre Cluytens

Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Victoria de Los Angeles, et al.

Label: Angel Records - #66946 Audio CD (January 12, 1999)

 

Giuseppe Geremia

Composer: Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Geremia

Conductor: Douglas Bostock

Performer: Salvatore Fisichella, Katia Ricciarelli, et al.

Label: Classico

Catalog: #225

Audio CD (April 1, 1999)

 

Jean Gilles

Composer: Jean Gilles, Michel Corrette

Conductor: Philippe Herreweghe

Performer: Martyn Hill, Peter Kooy, et al.

Label: Universal - #471722 Audio CD (October 8, 2002)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Philippe Herreweghe's 1981 recording of Jean Gilles's Messe des Morts (Requiem) rescued a once-celebrated work from almost 200 years of neglect. Written in 1697, the piece seems not to have been performed until the composer's own untimely death, at age 37, in 1705. Widely praised in France throughout much of the 18th century, the Requiem was much altered and expanded until at length it fell into neglect. Herreweghe was the first to seek out the original manuscript and present the work as written by Gilles, played by his period-instrument ensemble, Musica Antiqua Köln, accompanied by the Collegium Vocale Gent. The result is a splendid re-creation of the French Baroque, in which the formality of strict fugal passages is contrasted with joyful dances and frankly operatic solos. Michel Corrette's Carillon des Morts from 1764 is the brief filler. The analogue sound of this disc is pleasant and warm, making the most of the occasionally scrawny orchestral textures: this was still the early days for period performance; more modern recordings tend to be a little more refined. Nonetheless, for anyone with an interest in Baroque vocal music, this original album remains a rewarding discovery. --Mark Walker
 

Louis Theodore Gouvy

Composer: Louis Theodore Gouvy

Conductor: Jacques Houtmann

Performer: Gerard Garino, Manfred Hemm, et al.

Label: K617 Records

 

Francisco Guerrero

Composer: Francisco Guerrero, Gregorian Chant, et al.

Conductor: Michael Noone

Performer: Simon Davies, Robert Evans, et al.

Label: Glossa - #921402 Audio CD (December 15, 1999)

 
 

Johann Adolf Hasse

Composer: Johann Adolf Hasse

Performer: Ian Honeyman, Greta de Reyghere, et al.

Label: Tete-A-Tete - #20004 Audio CD (November 12, 2002)

 

Michael Haydn

Composer: Michael Haydn

Conductor: Helmuth Rilling

Performer: Maria Frank, Martin Klietmann, et al.

Label: Hungaroton - #31022 Audio CD (March 14, 1995)

 

 

Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn

Conductor: Helmuth Rilling

Performer: Michel Brodard, Ingeborg Danz, et al.

Label: Hanssler Classics - #98144 Audio CD (October 7, 1997)

 

Herbert Howells

Composer: Herbert Howells, Gabriel Faure

Conductor: Indianapolis Festival Orchestra

Performer: Frederick Burgomaster, Indianapolis Christ Church Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, et al.

Label: Gothic Records - #49062 Audio CD (July 24, 1994)

 

Orlande de Lassus

Composer: Orlande de Lassus

Performer: Rogers Covey-Crump, David James, et al.

Label: Ecm Records

Catalog: #21658

Audio CD (October 27, 1998)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording

Many listeners today avoid Requiems, presuming that funeral masses must be depressing. Not so--many of them, like the Lassus recorded here, have lovely major-key part-writing and a sweet, tranquil air. The Hilliard Ensemble captures these qualities beautifully at the beginning of this disc: the first three tracks contain their most engaging singing in years. By track four, unfortunately, their dour streak emerges: however attractive Lassus's writing, it's difficult to stay involved with performances so aloof. Disappointment turns to serious frustration with Prophetiæ Sibyllarum (a set of verses purportedly prophesying Christ's birth). The astounding opening movement changes keys at least six times in 95 seconds; the reserved singing gives barely a hint that the music is at all unusual. For the Hilliard Ensemble at their best, try their Perotin CD; for a good example of Lassus in this mood, try the Penitential Psalms (Henry's Eight). To hear an engaging, enjoyable Renaissance Requiem, check out Manuel Cardoso or Duarte Lôbo, both by the Tallis Scholars. --Matthew Westphal

Nicholas Lens

Composer: Nicholas Lens

Performer: Gary Boyce, Manuel Camachos-Santos, et al.

Label: Sony - #66293 Audio CD (August 22, 1995)

 

Gyorgy Ligeti

Composer: Gyorgy Ligeti

Conductor: Michael Gielen, Friedrich Cerha, et al.

Performer: Barbro Ericson, Liliana Poli

Label: Wergo - #60045 Audio CD (September 10, 1992)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Captivating. One of the unique aspects of Ligeti's music is his ability to project dense, chromatic webs of sound with an almost Mozartian clarity; this disconcerting sensation is masterfully reproduced in this performance of Ligeti's Requiem by conductor Michael Gielen. The finale--calamitous, but strangely withdrawn--represents the composer at his most dramatic. And yes, this is the music Stanley Kubrick used to accompany the discovery of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Also on this disc are two other essential works, Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures, highly comic, highly theatrical, justly celebrated choral works. --Joshua Cody --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Franz Liszt

Composer: Franz Liszt

Conductor: Janos Ferencsik

Performer: Sandor Margittay

Label: Hungaroton - #11267 Audio CD (March 10, 1995)

 

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Conductor: English Chamber Orchestra

Performer: Lorin Maazel, Plácido Domingo, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #448616 Audio CD (November 14, 1995)

Number of Discs: 1

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
Before Andrew Lloyd Webber's seemingly endless run of Broadway shows, when he was known primarily for Jesus Christ Superstar, he managed to write this dramatic, tuneful, occasionally powerful religious work. Although Lloyd Webber takes some liberties with the text and organization of the traditional Requiem mass, the result is a unified and finely crafted composition. There are exciting moments in the "Dies irae" and in the "Lacrymosa", where voices and orchestra are most effectively used to convey the desperate yet hopeful feeling of the text. This work isn't performed much these days in its entirety, but, as in many of Lloyd Webber's musicals, it produced a "hit" tune--the "Pie Jesu"--whose popularity alone could have kept the composer living comfortably for the rest of his life. --David Vernier

Duarte Lobo

Composer: Duarte Lobo, Manuel Cardoso

Conductor: Jeremy Summerly

Label: Naxos - #550682 Audio CD (February 15, 1994)

 

Composer: Duarte Lobo

Label: Gimell - #28 Audio CD (March 12, 2002)

 

Benedetto Marcello

Composer: Recorded Sound, Benedetto Marcello

Performer: Francesco Moi, Mauro Collina, et al.

Label: Chandos - #637 Audio CD (March 23, 1999)

 

Frank Martin

Composer: Frank Martin

Performer: Gottfried Bach, Verena-Barbara Gohl, et al.

Label: Musiques Suisses - #6183 Audio CD (October 30, 2001)

 

Cristobal de Morales

Composer: Cristobal de Morales, Alonso Lobo

Label: Polygram Records - #457597 Audio CD (June 9, 1998)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
This is arguably the most impressive recording the Gabrieli Consort has ever made. Here you have a low-voiced choir, accompanied only by a bassoon, singing more than an hour of music that is austere even as funeral masses go--yet it all sounds positively gorgeous. Paul McCreesh's tempi are slow, but his sensitive phrasing and dynamics keep the music from ever seeming static. Where most groups rush through plainchant passages as if they'd rather not have to do them at all, these musicians take the chant seriously--and make it sound integral to the music rather than like boring but obligatory preliminaries. As usual, McCreesh sets the music in liturgical context (a memorial Mass for Philip II of Spain); the liturgy itself seems a work of art--for example, the gospel lesson (Jesus and Martha after the death of Lazarus) is unexpectedly touching. McCreesh has taken music that can seem forbiddingly sober and shown it to be mournful, powerful, serene, and sweet. --Matthew Westphal

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Conductor: Christopher Hogwood

Performer: Emma Kirkby, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #411712 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

 

 

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Conductor: Sir Georg Solti

Performer: Cecilia Bartoli, Arleen Auger, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #433688 Audio CD (March 10, 1992)

Number of Discs: 1

 

 

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Conductor: Leonard Bernstein

Performer: Maria Ewing, Jerry Hadley, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #427353 Audio CD (July 20, 1989)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
As with his performance of the Mass in C Minor with these same forces, Leonard Bernstein provides another outstanding performance, certainly one of the very finest available of this oft-recorded music. Without indulging in the sort of Romantic mannerisms that sometimes afflict his Mozart, Bernstein urges his Bavarian forces on to heights of passion and intensity that never upset the music's natural proportions. A magnificent disc. --David Hurwitz

 

Starring: Claudio Abbado, Karita Mattila, See more

Encoding: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.) Format: Color

Rated: NR Studio: Arthaus Musik

DVD Release Date: July 3, 2000

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com
The packaging labels this disc Mozart Requiem, but the actual program on the DVD bears the title "Herbert Von Karajan Memorial Concert," a document of a concert given on July 16, 1999 in Salzburg Cathedral to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of the conductor. Mozart's unfinished Requiem, as completed by Süssmayr, is obviously the main work. We are told that other works were performed in the concert, but not what they were, the only additional pieces included here being two short arias for soprano, "Betrachte dies mien Herz un Frage Mich," KV42 and "Laudate Dominum," KV339, beautifully sung by Rachel Harnisch. In the Requiem, Claudio Abbado summons a deeply atmospheric performance from the Berlin Philharmonic and Swedish Radio Choir, and equally expressive singing from his finely matched soloists. Bass Bryn Terfel is powerfully communicative, soprano Karita Mattila hauntingly resigned. If not as fiery as if Karajan himself were conducting, this is still a memorable and rewarding tribute.

The DVD has a wonderfully three-dimensional Dolby-Digital 5.1 sound mix that brings the Salzburg Cathedral ambience alive, and a stunningly detailed and clear anamorphically enhanced picture. Documentation is minimal; no texts, subtitles, or information about either Von Karajan or Rachel Harnisch is given. There is only one special feature, which is not documented on the disc: by default the disc offers a standard multi-camera view, but at a press of the Angle button it switches to a second set of cameras focused entirely on Abbado. --Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk

From the Back Cover
On July 16, 1999, the tenth anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan, a memorial concert was held in the Salzburg Cathedral. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado, performed Mozart's Requiem in D minor, KV 626, among other works. Background reports illuminate Karajan's life and work, demythologize the legends surrounding the Requiem, and portray Salzburg and its cathedral.

Rachel Harnish - Soprano
Karita Mattila - Soprano
Sara Mingardo - Mezzo Soprano
Michael Schade - Tenor
Bryn Terfel - Bass Baritone

Swedish Radio Choir, Berliner Philharmoniker

Johannes Ockeghem

Composer: Johannes Ockeghem, Pierre LaRue, et al.

Performer: Jonathan Arnold, Robin Blaze, et al.

Label: Asv Living Era - #168 Audio CD (March 18, 1997)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Ockeghem's Requiem, the oldest surviving polyphonic setting of the funeral Mass, is Ockeghem's most famous work, and his most unusual. The style varies widely from movement to movement: the opening Introit, very plain and syllabically set, might have been written in the 1430s by Dufay; the rhapsodic duos in the tract Sicut cervus might have been written 70 years later by Josquin. The chanson "Fors seulement" and the Mass based on it both have a consistently fluid, melodious style and explore very low vocal ranges (as does Brumel's exquisitely gloomy setting of the chanson). The Clerks' Group won a well-deserved Gramophone Award for this disc, the centerpiece of their Ockeghem series. --Matthew Westphal

Otto Olsson

Composer: Otto Olsson

Conductor: Anders Ohrwall

Performer: Anders Andersson, MariAnne Haggander, et al.

Label: Caprice

Number of Discs: 1

 

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Performer: Eric Alatorre, Kevin Baum, et al.

Label: Elektra/Asylum

Catalog: #94561

Audio CD (October 4, 1994)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
No question, this choir has a sound like no other, and it's primarily due to the fact that the all-male group uses men to sing true soprano parts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. This disc is a perfect example of what happens when everything goes right. While the opening short five-part motet Gaude gloriosa is beautiful, wait until you hear the almost unimaginable richness of the voices at the beginning of the Missa pro defunctis. It's hard to believe that this is pure, unenhanced choral singing, but it is. And it's a thrilling sound that resonates deep within. These singers perform with an expressive style that's perhaps more of the 20th century than the music will easily accept, but there's no real harm in allowing the soul that lives in the present to express itself, especially in music so sincere in its blend of the spiritual and sensual. --David Vernier

Krzysztof Penderecki

Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki

Conductor: Krzysztof Penderecki

Performer: Jadwiga Gadulanka, Piotr Nowacki, et al.

Label: Chandos - #9459 Audio CD (June 18, 1996)

Number of Discs: 2

 

Zbigniew Preisner

Composer: Zbigniew Preisner

Conductor: Zbigniew Preisner, Piotr Kusiewicz

Performer: Piotr Kusiewicz, Leszek Mozdzer, et al.

Ensemble: Marek Mos, Elzbieta Towarnicka

Label: Elektra/Asylum - #24146 Audio CD (February 16, 1999)

Number of Discs: 1

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Known more for his film scores than for his full-length concert works, Zbigniew Preisner injects a good dose of his famed film score methodologies into this recording. Divided into two parts, Requiem and Life, this work is outstanding in its first nine movements, capturing soaring choral blasts that startle and hold the ear steadily, as does the occasional churning organ and the chamber ensemble, which seems to make far more sound than is possible. The Requiem as a whole is also stylistically cleaved in two: Life heads wholeheartedly into the realm of filmic composition (doing so in four episodes). Resolution is always on the horizon, but the musical tensions seem directed toward a visual conclusion, rather than any kind of sonic release or resolution. To that end, the music itself, especially early in Life, is a bit thin. Maybe it's the alto saxophone, which plays simple figures that get washed out in the cavernous audio. Or maybe it's the building march-like cadence of the "Apocalypse "episode, which seems to announce a particular character without ever producing one. Perhaps it's the desire to create mood without exploring the complexities. As film music, this is excellent stuff, easily capable of throwing musical beams on action. As a purely sonic phenomenon, it's sometimes too much, sometimes too little, and only briefly balanced between the two. --Andrew Bartlett

Giacomo Puccini

Composer: Giacomo Puccini, Leos Janacek

Performer: Lynette Alcantara, Helen Cole, et al.

Label: Asv Living Era - #914 Audio CD (June 20, 1995)

 

 John Rutter

Composer: John Rutter

Conductor: John Rutter

Performer: Caroline Ashton, Donna Deam

Ensemble: Cambridge Singers

Label: Collegium - #504 Audio CD (February 29, 2000)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Two of John Rutter's most popular large-scale choral works are paired in this bargain-priced CD. Requiem, his first composition written without being commissioned, is a convincing affirmation of Christian doctrine on death and eternal life. It is also a substantial and sincere work that strives to be widely appealing while preserving a spiritual context centered on themes of light and consolation. Highlights include "Out of the Deep," its modal tune and harmonies giving it the flavor of a spiritual, and the wonderfully gentle and restful 23rd Psalm. Rutter personalizes his Requiem by adding movements not traditionally part of the Requiem Mass--passages from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, for instance--and this proves to be an effective strategy. Rutter's own, first-class Cambridge Singers are superb, as usual, and soloist Caroline Ashton steals the show with her heavenly Pie Jesu. The Magnificat shows Rutter at his most engaging, thoughtful, and adept. His usual canny sense of tunefulness and rhythmic rightness, flavored with splashes of pop harmony, accomplish his purpose in the Magnificat: to depict Mary's prayer as a celebratory occasion rather than a somber one. --David Vernier

 

Composer: John Rutter

Conductor: Timothy Brown

Performer: Susan Dorey, Christopher Hooker, et al.

Label: Naxos - Audio CD (April 29, 2003)

Editorial Reviews
Album Description
Produced by the composer himself, this is the first recording of the original ensemble version of John Rutter’s radiant Requiem. Written in 1985, the work is not a conventional setting of the Requiem Mass but comprises a personal selection of texts from the Catholic liturgy and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. John Rutter maintains intimate ties with Clare College and many of his anthems are left as a musical legacy to the college. Among these are two simple, tender Blessings: Go forth into the world in peace, dedicated to the choir on the eve of its first tour to America; and A Clare Benediction, written as a gift to Rutter’s alma mater. This recording is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Rutter.

Antoine Reicha

Composer: Antoine Reicha

Conductor: Lubomir Matl

Performer: Anna Barova, Vladimir Dolezal, et al.

Label: Supraphon - #110332 Audio CD (April 20, 1994)

 

Alfred Schnittke

Composer: Alfred Schnittke

Label: Praga - #250149 Audio CD (August 15, 2000)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Alfred Schnittke's work always is fresh and challenging, even when it seems also willfully obscure. This disc presents two of the Russian composer's best works in excellent performances by a fine chorus whose Slavic timbres fit the sense of rootedness in the soil of Europe's east that pervades both pieces. The Concerto for Choir is a four-movement work for a cappella mixed chorus, set to a religious text. Each movement has its own character, and each is full of fetching colors and rhythmic drive. Also, each has unforgettable moments, such as the second movement's soprano melody, which floats above a chant-like ostinato; or the echo effect of the final Amen, the men singing slightly behind the women. The Requiem is, if anything, even more compelling, bursting with originality, as well as homages to Stravinsky (the "Kyrie" is straight out of Les Noces) and Prokofiev (Alexander Nevsky's fingerprints are all over the "Tuba mirum"). The chorus is joined here by a small, percussion-laden orchestra, which contributes to the power of the work, as in the militant "Credo," whose piercing brass and powerful drums make for the most exciting Requiem this side of Verdi. --Dan Davis

Robert Schumann

Composer: Robert Schumann

Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner

Performer: Barbara Bonney, Bernarda Fink, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #457660 Audio CD (June 22, 1999)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
This lovely, unjustly neglected work should have become part of the mainstream repertoire long ago. Based on a Persian legend retold by poet Thomas Moore, the story is an endearing mixture of Western and Eastern religion. Setting a Christian vision of Heaven in Allah's garden, it tells of a supplicant tainted not by guilt but by inheritance, who must be cleansed by compassion and undaunted personal effort to be admitted to Paradise. The music is basically lyrical, tender, and serene but encompasses the depths and heights of intensity, lamentation, devotion, ecstasy, and triumph. A succession of vintage Schumann songs, sometimes bursting into operatic arias, is held together by often highly dramatic accompanied tenor recitatives and by long passages melding the solo voices with chorus and orchestra; the instruments evoke images of sun, moon, flowers, water, even the clash of war, refuting Schumann's supposed inability to orchestrate. The singing by both chorus and soloists is beyond praise; the orchestra is wonderfully transparent but often too subdued, evidently by interpretive choice. Of the two short pieces, the second is more beguiling for its mysterious, shimmering atmosphere. --Edith Eisler

Ronald Senator

Composer: Bedrich Smetana, Ronald Senator

Conductor: Joel Spiegelman, Stanislav D. Gusev

Performer: Jan Kratov, Lydia Zakharenko

Label: Delos Records - #1032 Audio CD (May 10, 1994)

 

Charles Villiers Stanford

Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford

Conductor: Adrian Leaper

Performer: Nigel Leeson-Williams, Peter Kerr, et al.

Label: Marco Polo

Number of Discs: 2

 

Igor Stravinsky

Composer: Igor Stravinsky

Conductor: Neeme Jarvi

Performer: Raynal Malsam, Michel Brodard, et al.

Label: Chandos - #9408 Audio CD (January 23, 1996)

 

John Tavener

Composer: John Tavener

Conductor: Martin Neary

Performer: Charles Fullbrook, Alice Newry, et al.

Label: Sony - #66613 Audio CD (October 31, 1995)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com essential recording
Innocence, the longest work here, is the least successful. The bulk of the piece is a catalog of cruelties inflicted by humankind on innocents--mostly children--set to harsh but generally monotonous music. But Patricia Rozario is spectacular in a three-octave solo part, and the ending, with an ethereal chorus and bells depicting the salvation awaiting suffering innocents, is magical. The shorter pieces are deservedly among Tavener's most famous. The gentle, beguiling The Lamb and the powerful Tyger, settings of poems by William Blake, make an ideal pair. (Where The Tyger's text alludes to The Lamb, Tavener quotes The Lamb's music to wonderful effect.) The two hymns to the Mother of God are models of reverent beauty; Song for Athene, made world-famous at Princess Diana's funeral, is spellbinding. --Matthew Westphal

Mikis Theodorakis

Composer: Mikis Theodorakis

Conductor: Mikis Theodorakis

Label: Intuition - #3292 Audio CD (March 14, 2000)

Number of Discs: 1

 

Vaclav Jan Krtitel Tomasek

Performer(s): V.J. Tomasek

Label: Multisonic Records - #310395 Audio CD (August 24, 1999)

 

Gareth Valentine

Performer(s): G. Valentine

Label: Jay Records - #1358 Audio CD (November 13, 2001)

 

Giuseppe Verdi

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Conductor: Vienna Philharmonic

Performer: Georg Solti, Joan Sutherland, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #411944 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
If you value the drama and terror of Giuseppe Verdi's sacred masterpiece, you need to hear this. Solti's "Dies Irae" is overwhelming, the drums pounding and the chorus sounding as if it's writhing in hell's torments. What Solti's intense, operatic conception lacks in spirituality it more than makes up for in the way it grips you by the throat and never lets go. The solo quartet, with one exception, is among the best assembled in the stereo era. Pavarotti shines, and Talvela's authoritative basso profundo is a rock-solid anchor. Horne's trademark register break can be a distraction at times, but she's thrilling. With a more idiomatic soprano, this would have been an unbeatable foursome, but Sutherland is sadly miscast here, most damagingly in the "Libera me." Sonics were demonstration quality in their day and are still competitive with the best. For a more devotional approach, Giulini is a good choice. Vintage performances by Toscanini (RCA and Music & Arts) and Serafin on Pearl (the latter with a true golden age vocal quartet) are desirable, as are stereo versions by Daniel Barenboim on Teldec and Robert Shaw on Telarc. Solti's remake for RCA is less attractive; you can't go wrong with this one. --Dan Davis

 

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Conductor: Claudio Abbado

Performer: Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna

Label: Emi Classics - #57168 Audio CD (November 20, 2001)

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Verdi's Requiem--certainly one of his most moving, eloquent masterpieces--was written in honor of the great Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni, whom he admired enormously both for his writings and his political outlook. Though its text is the Latin liturgy, it has been called Verdi's greatest opera because of its basically dramatic character, as well as his own ambivalent attitude toward organized religion. Thus, interpretations tend to emphasize its secular or its sacred aspect, though, naturally, the soloists are trained in the Verdi opera tradition.

For example, Toscanini's legendary performance, recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1951, takes exactly the opposite approach to this version. Inwardly expressive, noble, devout, pleading, prayerful, yet with plenty of dramatic intensity, the Toscanini encompasses every human emotion and offers a synthesis of Verdi's vision of the earthly and the sublime. The performers on this recording, captured live on the 100th anniversary of Verdi's death, take the theatrical view. The soloists swoop and slide, sob and sigh, and overdramatize the fear and trembling. Tenor Roberto Alagna belts out his part in the best operatic style, the bass sounds rough, the alto's vibrato wobbles, but soprano Angela Gheorghiu soars radiantly. The choruses are good, the orchestra is wonderful, but the dynamic contrasts go from inaudible to ear-splitting. --Edith Eisler

 

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Conductor: Robert Shaw

Performer: Diane Curry, Susan Dunn, et al.

Label: Telarc - #80152 Audio CD (October 25, 1990)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
Robert Shaw learned from Arturo Toscanini, and in his stupendous 1987 recording for Telarc he managed to surpass the master on some points. He is unerring in his pacing and staging of climaxes, and draws phrasing and dynamics from the chorus that other conductors can only dream of. Points are made with exhilarating effect throughout the account: never has the bass drum in the Dies irae been as splendidly hammered as here, and the whooping brass in the Tuba mirum is breathtaking. The all-American solo quartet sounds a bit driven, especially the light-voiced Susan Dunn and Jerry Hadley, but their contribution is a strong one nonetheless. --Ted Libbey

 

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

Conductor: John Eliot Gardiner

Performer: Luba Orgonasova, Anne Sofie von Otter, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #442142 Audio CD (April 11, 1995)

Number of Discs: 2

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
This religious masterpiece, composed in memory of the great Italian novelist Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873), has themes even more cosmic than any in Verdi's other operas: life and death, heaven and hell, the Christian vision of humanity's redemption, the end of the world, and the last judgment. Verdi's music rises to the tremendous demands of this subject matter; it is music of grandeur, guilt, terror, and consolation, with a breadth of vision and an intensity of feeling unique in the composer's work and in religious music. John Eliot Gardiner's is the first recording made with period instruments, a kind of performance that some music lovers still dismiss as dilettantism, more concerned with musicological correctness than feeling and communication. Gardiner's powerful performance blows such objections away, and this recording takes a rightful place alongside the best modern instrument versions. --Joe McLellan

 

Encoding: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.) Format:

Rated: NR Studio: Emi Distribution

DVD Release Date: May 21, 2002 DVD Features: Live recording at performances to mark the centenary of Verdi's death (Jan. 25 and 27, 2001)

Angela Gheorghiu, soprano; Daniela Barcellona, mezzo-soprano; Roberto Alagna, tenor; Julian Konstantinov, bass; Swedish Radio Chorus, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, Berliner Philharmoniker; conducted by Claudio Abbado

16-page booklet includes requiem text and liner notes in English, German, and French

Menus in English, German, and French

Widescreen anamorphic format

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com
For its sheer power and its precise balance of the two visions (epic and personal) embodied in Verdi's masterpiece, this is the Requiem to have. It would be hard to quarrel with anyone who chooses Leontyne Price in the 1967 Herbert von Karajan recording over Angela Gheorghiu, or Luciano Pavarotti over Roberto Alagna; the differences are slight and a matter of personal taste. But this is the most intensely dramatic of Verdi's works, including no less a climax than the flaming end of the world, and Claudio Abbado treats the composer's vision even more powerfully than von Karajan, with a magnificent orchestra and chorus at his disposal.

Von Karajan's soloists--all world-class and all in their best years--would be hard to surpass, but Abbado's are also excellent, and they sing with good tone and the kind of dramatic intensity demanded by Abbado--and Verdi. EMI's 16-page booklet sets a standard for the industry. --Joe McLellan

 

Composer: Antonio Buzzolla, Antonio Bazzini, et al.

Conductor: Helmuth Rilling

Performer: Alexandru Agache, Gabriela Benackova, et al.

Label: Hanssler Classics - #98402 Audio CD (August 28, 2001)

 

Ladislav Vycpalek

Composer: Ladislav Vycpalek

Conductor: Karel Ancerl

Performer: Ladislav Mraz, Drahomira Tikalova, et al.

Label: Supraphon - #111933 Audio CD (September 22, 1994)

 

Tomas Luis de Victoria

Composer: Gregorian Chant, Tomas Luis de Victoria

Label: Hyperion - #66250 Audio CD (November 12, 1993)

 

 

Composer: Tomas Luis de Victoria, Alonso Lobo

Label: Gimell - #12 Audio CD (July 10, 2001)

 

Kurt Weill

Composer: Kurt Weill

Performer: Philip Langridge, Nona Liddell, et al.

Label: Polygram Records - #459442 Audio CD (September 14, 1999)

Number of Discs: 2

 

Jan Dismas Zelenka

Composer: Jan Dismas Zelenka

Conductor: Roman Valek

Performer: Magdalena Kozená, Helena Pellarova, et al.

Label: Supraphon - #52 Audio CD (September 19, 1995)

 
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Revised: 07/01/05 20:36:37 -0400.