Requiem Aeternam

I was at the Bridgewater Hall on Saturday night to hear Verdi’s Requiem: Mark Elder conducting the Halle + 4 top soloists + the Halle Choir + the London Symphony Choir (a combined chorus then of 180 people or so): review here.  We were in the 4th row of the stalls, and it was amazing.  Elder is an astonishing conductor, especially in Verdi.  The Requiem needs someone who can combine the operatic/dramatic with the ecclesiastical/spiritual by unleashing the orchestral and choral forces when necessary (Hans von Bülow called the Requiem Verdi’s greatest opera) and then showing a certain restraint – not least in the same climactic passages.  It is the work of an avowed agnostic, but none the worse for that, running the gamut of emotion that constitutes the human search for salvation:  the fear and dread of the Dies Irae; the abyss of the Mors Stupendit; the lyrical, heavenly vision of Lux Aeterna;  ending on with the hushed but ultimately uncertain prayer "Libera Me".

Here is the Lacrymosa in a famous 1967 recording: Karajan + La Scala orchestra + a young Pavarotti (without beard) + Nicola Ghiaurov + Leontyne Price (one the greatest ever Verdian sopranos) + Fiorenza Cossotto.  Listen and weep.