Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Messa da Requiem (1835) [69:19]
Leyla Gencer (soprano); Mirna Pecile (mezzo); Armando Moretti (tenor); Alessandro
Cassis (bass); Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of RAI (Milan)/Gianandrea Gavazzeni
rec. live, Milan, 26 March 1961
no text or translation included
ARCHIPEL ARPCD 0475 [69:19]
Although I have known of the existence of Donizetti’s Requiem for
some time I have never previously got around to listening to it. I suspected,
I think, that it would be like the Mass by Bellini - in whose memory the present
Requiem was written; that is, pleasant but wholly forgettable. I was very wrong.
Right from the beginning of listening to this disc I was absolutely transfixed.
It would be too much to compare it with Verdi’s masterpiece but it is
not dissimilar in its general musical and dramatic character whilst having a
distinctive character of its own.
It is a lengthy setting of only the first parts of the Requiem - the Kyrie and
Dies Irae, both divided into a series of linked movements including solos, ensembles
and choruses, and several sections with instrumental obbligati. The character
is dramatic interspersed with more lyrical sections. Overall it lies somewhere
between, say, Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Verdi’s Requiem.
I have not heard any of the small number of other recordings that have been
made of the work. This version is now over half a century old, and frankly sounds
its age. Nonetheless enough comes through for a sympathetic listener to be able
to enjoy the work. The performance is enthusiastic and generally convincing,
especially from the orchestra. Even if it is possible to imagine more imaginative
soloists the present team are never less than adequate.
Archipel provide only a bare list of movements without even individual timings,
and no notes on the music or the performers. Despite this and the elderly recording
this has been a disc from which I have obtained much pleasure and which can
be unhesitatingly commended to enthusiasts for the composer or more generally
for choral music of the nineteenth century.
This has been a disc I from which I have obtained much pleasure.