Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Symphonica Toscanini/Lorin Maazel Verdi - Messa da Requiem|
Actors: Lorin Maazel, Anna Smirnova, Francesco Meli, Norma Fantini, Rafal Siwek
Director: Tiziano Mancini
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Let down by poor acoustics
Filippo Secondo | 12/11/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"None of Maazel's soloists (Fantini, Smirnova, Meli and Siwek) entirely disappoints. My major complaint is that the acoustics of the Basilica di San Marco (Venice) are uncomfortably reverberant: the Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (especially in 'Sanctus' and 'Agnus Dei') sounds messy (too many post-echoes) and is always drowned by the crystal-clear Symphonica Toscanini (for the first time, I am aware of hidden orchestral gems that I couldn't hear on any other recording). Maazel's score-less conducting is erratic (89 minutes): 'Dies Irae' and its refrains are rushed, but elsewhere he adopts leisurely tempi that sometimes become anticlimactic (lasting more than 7 minutes, the final section of 'Libera me' - from the fugue onwards - is desperately slow, not at all uplifting). 3 1/2 stars.
A musically flawed production
gpk | Forest Grove, OR, United States | 05/30/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I had high expectations in view of the assembled artists, the venue and special occasion of this performance, and of Maazel's interpretation. The production itself is quite beautiful: recorded in the Basilica di San Marco in Venice in November 2007, it highlights the cathedral's splendor, the reverent audience, the soloists, orchestra and chorus with near-perfect cinematography. The soundtrack is also acceptable, which may have been quite a task to achieve, given the Basilica's over-reverberant acoustics. Alas, the performance itself does not rise to the occasion. Despite the occasional minor insecurity in ensemble and a visible lack of joy, the Symphonica Toscanini musicians play well, the Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino members sing equally well, and the soloists are more than adequate, almost tangibly trying to excel. The star among the four is the luminous mezzo-soprano Anna Smirnova who seems to provide some of the cues for her fellow-soloists. What is missing, however, from beginning to end is an energetic and inspiring presence on the podium. Maazel beats the time without any display of emotion and involvement in the music. His tempi are unconvincing at times and not consistent with the entire score's inner dynamics. Quite a few sharp rhythmic accents are leveled, some highly devotional and expressive passages appear strangely bland. When the musicians look at the conductor for direction, his gestures are often vague. Throughout the performance, his dour expression does not change. Against convention, he does not use a score, and there might be moments when he lacks the firm grip on the proceedings necessary for the realization of this huge and complex work. Perhaps he was indisposed--or he just is not deeply moved by the Requiem. The performance strikes me as musically flawed, and I can not recommend it with enthusiasm. If you want the heart and the soul of this great work in a superb interpretation on DVD, get Abbado's 2001 Berlin recording (EMI Classics)."