Live from La Scala: Dream Cast for Verdi’s Requiem

Daniel Barenboim directs a peerless team of soloists, starring Jonas Kaufmann, and the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Verdi’s Messa da Requiem

Audio and video recording released by Decca to mark the beginning of Verdi’s Bicentenary Year

Forged in the white heat of live performance, Daniel Barenboim’s sensational account of Verdi’s Requiem on Decca is sure to stand among the most important classical releases of 2013 and to endure as a lasting landmark of the Verdi Year. It also represents the conductor’s first audio recording in his role as Music Director of Milan’s illustrious opera house.

Barenboim’s vision of the composition highlights the work’s rich humanity, from the searing force of its Dies irae (“Day of wrath”) to the transcendent beauty of the closing Libera me prayer (“Deliver me”).

The new recording features an all-star cast, complete with one of today’s greatest Verdians, Jonas Kaufmann, whose interpretation of the work’s sublime tenor solos captivate the ear. It also connects directly with the great Verdi legacy cultivated by the Orchestra of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, scene of the Requiem’s first concert presentation in May 1874 and of many legendary performances since.

Soprano Anja Harteros, mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and the mighty bass René Pape here join forces with Jonas Kaufmann to form a dream team of soloists. The excellence and subtle insights of their work are underpinned by compelling choral singing from the Chorus of La Scala and electrifying playing from Maestro Barenboim’s Milanese orchestral musicians.

Decca’s audio, DVD and Blu-ray recordings of Verdi’s Requiem capture the energy produced by these performers in concert at La Scala last September.

“I was blown away by [Barenboim’s] Requiem”, wrote Richard Morrison in The Times, following the work’s performance at the Lucerne Festival. “Highlights? Kaufmann’s first entry was like an erupting volcano. Garanča was as mesmerising, floating creamy legatos while mustering a thrilling chest voice that I never thought she possessed . . .”

“Kaufmann . . . impressed in his Ingemisco”, wrote BachTrack of his Salzburg Festival Requiem performance, “balancing tenderly voiced opening phrases with an underlying force that carefully came to the fore, ensuring that the first top B flat wouldn’t seem to come from nowhere.”