Charming - but mostly for the Verdi completist
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 01/30/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am surprised to find that this disc has not yet been reviewed on Amazon, given that the first five items are "World Premiere Recordings" of newly discovered works, made as part of the Verdi centennial in 2001, though in truth that might reflect the essentially insubstantial nature of much of the music on offer here.
The programme consists of religious music spanning almost fifty years of Verdi's output, from the youthful Messa solenne to the 1880 settings of paraphrases attributed to Dante. The main item from both a quality and musicological point of view, is the proto-Libera me, composed in 1869 for Rossini's memorial mass but never performed, and of course eventually incorporated into the Manzoni Requiem with some vital enhancements and improvements. From a canary-fancier's perspective, the main attraction is in the performances by two lovely lyric tenors, then rising stars Juan Diego Flórez and Kenneth Tarver, and soprano Cristina Gallardo-Domâs, who sings beautifully, especially in the Ave Maria. Neither of the woolly basses gives me much pleasure but they have little to sing. The early music is mostly sub-Rossini and hardly proleptic of Verdi's later style, whereas the large choral scale, advanced dissonances and the evident intent of paying homage to Palestrina evinced in two late pieces confirm that they are close cousins to the Four Sacred Songs of eight years later. It is the quality of singing in combination with the rich complexity and subtle harmonies of these two late works which urge me to confer another star on this disc, which would otherwise have been of marginal interest only.
Chailly and his Milan forces play and sing beautifully, and the recording is fine, although I am slightly bothered by some rumble through the Ave Maria (air conditioning? It was made in July in Milan.)"