Thursday, November 5, 2020

This might turn into another attempt at Ten Days, Ten Verdi Requiems

You Tube, in its wisdom, keeps pointing me toward ever more Verdi Requiem performances. Being part of Google, it knows that I've been watching several and writing about them. It probably knows what I had for breakfast and what my next crochet project will be.

Not a bad thing. I've seen some fine performances recently, such as the 1980 performance I wrote of. Now I shall write of two more I discovered Google found for me last night.

1989. Unnamed ensemble; Cond: Lamberto Gardelli; Kincses Veronika, soprano; Hamari Júlia, mezzo; Daróczi Tamás, tenor; Polgár László, bass.  Very fine chorus and orchestra.  Some tempi were a bit spritely, which occasionally led to what seemed to be confusion between chorus, soloists, and orchestra, but when it worked it was good to have those moments highly spirited.  Still, I prefer being able to take time to savor some moments that often are glossed over when tempi are quick. Having said that, however, I will confirm that I would choose to hear this performance again.

The soprano had a good sound but sometimes was a bit flat on top notes. This mostly went away over time, and in fact her part in Lacrymosa was quite graceful, but often she looked as if she was in pain as she reached for those top notes.  I'm sorry to report that the slow Requiem aeternam section of Libera me did not live up to expectations. The last pleading line from the soprano in Libera me was spoken, with great urgency--an interesting choice from the conductor.

The mezzo showed a fine blend between pure head voce and voix mixe in Liber scriptus and Lux aeterna. A beautiful, sensitive performance overall, but must she weave about so when she sings? The tenor (as you can tell, I'm afraid to venture these eastern European names again!)  sang with a very free, beautiful sound and a solid presence. The test piece for any tenor, Ingemisco, was quite fine.  But why was he married to his score? Isn't this music in his blood since his student days?  The bass might have been the best soloist of all, if I were forced to choose. A very good, solid Mors stupebit, superb freedom, beauty of sound and musically sensitive performance. Very well done!

Tamara Wilson

Another fine performance chosen for me by the great Google (hail be to thee, O Google!) was a 2016 BBC Proms performance by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Proms Youth(!) Choir under Marin Alsop. I like the conductor and the orchestra every much, for they gave a very fine performance, but I question the use of a youth choir, even one of such great numbers. One needs more depth and life experience in the sound. (One also needs more consistent pronunciation of church Latin.) I did occasionally espy a face that must surely have been an over-18 ringer, but overall the sound was a bit young for me.

Soloists were Tamara Wilson, soprano; Alisa Kolosolva, mezzo; Dimitri Pittas, tenor; Morris Robinson, bass.  All were very fine singers!  And I have seldom seen a quartet so fully committed, so involved in the ancient Latin text of this concert work. I once saw a review where the writer said there came a time when he had to put his pencil down and just listen--this was my experience, except that I had to stay at the YouTube tab on my browser and wait to write something in my Taminophile tab!

Morris Robinson is how I imagine a vengeful God to sound. Mors stupebit was truly terrifying!  Confutatis was a wonder.  More than the beauty of his sound, one was impressed by his unity of sound throughout his voice. Even in the highest parts, one felt this was part of one complete voice. And of course his interpretation was amazing.

Tamara Wilson. Another force of nature. A huge voice, equally unified throughout, capable of great volume and great subtlety. Huic ergo in the Lacrymosa was heavenly. And the Libera me!  Oh. My. Gawd! The same power and subtlety that had so impressed throughout displayed to the nth degree!

I consider Dimitri Pittas a friend, having met and interviewed him for a profile in Classical Singer magazine. I think it was published earlier this year. (I never got any copies of that issue. Classical Singer, step up to the plate!) I've even crocheted baby clothes for his newborn (as of Dec., 2019). A nicer fellow you will never meet, and I've always thought highly of his singing. I consider his voice a little light for this work (earlier the same year I had written that Nemorino fits him like a glove vocally), but he has that sunny, italianate sound that makes me swoon can sing anything. And indeed, his performance here is quite good.

Alisa Kolosolva is a very fine singer, but as is often the lot of the mezzo, other fine singers diverted attention she was due. She is no less a singer and musician than the other soloists, and in every passage we heard beauty and evenness of tone. (Are you beginning to see what gets me?  Beauty of sound, evenness and uniformity of tone, and interpretation. Is that so much to ask?) Her Liber scriptus and her Lux aeterna were both beautiful and showed that smooth transition between head voice and voix mixte that we wish to hear.

I have watched this video three times in the past 24 hours. I shall keep it in my play list.

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