Los Angeles Master Chorale
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Recorded live from the Hollywood Bowl, USA, August 2013
- Behind the scenes with Gustavo Dudamel
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: Latin, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese Read more Running time: 94 mins + 18 mins (bonus)
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W:
VERDI Requiem & • Gustavo Dudamel, cond; Juliana DiGiacomo (sop); Michelle DeYoung (mez); Vittorio Grigolo (ten); Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (bs); Los Angeles Master Chorale; Los Angeles PO • C MAJOR 714708 (90:00 + 26:00 Text and Translation) Live: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles 8/13 & 15/2013
& Interview and rehearsal footage
For those people who continue to resist the popular appeal of Gustavo Dudamel and who consider him a superficial and flashy young hotshot, this will prove disappointing. At least it will if they approach it with an open mind. This is a probing, sensitive, beautifully proportioned performance of Verdi’s Requiem. You might have expected a reading that emphasized the overtly dramatic, given the setting at the Hollywood bowl. In fact, this is quite the opposite.
Dudamel’s performance time for the Requiem is just about 90 minutes. To put that in perspective, it is similar to Giulini’s EMI recording (88), faster than Reiner (96) and de Sabata (95), slower than Toscanini (various performances range between 77 and 82) and Serafin (73). Tempo is, of course, not the main ingredient of a performance; de Sabata’s feels much faster than Reiner’s. Although Dudamel is slower than the average, it never drags.
What Dudamel manages here is an ideal balance between the devotional and the theatrical, between the intimacy and tenderness of much of the score and the fire and drama also present. And, most importantly, he unifies those elements into a whole that has a logical shape and inevitability despite encompassing extremes. It is a noble, deeply felt, profound performance, one worthy of standing with some of the finest. While the Dies irae blazes, it is the quiet moments that stay longest in the memory.
One of the performance’s strengths is that the soloists and the chorus do not just sing the notes of their music. They are singularly effective at articulating the words and communicating their meaning. At no point do you feel that any singer is just trying to make gorgeous sounds that are unconnected to a textual purpose. To hear all four soloists treat the words as important and worthy of specific inflection is rare enough, but to hear a chorus do that as well is remarkable. Grant Gershon, the Master Chorale’s director, surely deserves credit for the way he prepared the chorus. But the unwavering unity of purpose that one hears in the soloists and chorus has to emanate from the podium.
As for the solo singing, it is at a very high level. Grigolo starts out a bit tight in the Kyrie, but warms up quickly and sings a beautiful Ingemisco and Hostias (though without a genuine trill). D’Arcangelo is one of today’s most important Italian basses for a reason, and though he lacks the organ-like vocal richness of a Ghiaurov he uses his dark voice to full effect, and it is strong at both the top and bottom of its range. DeYoung sings with a lovely, warm sound and an innate sense for shaping the music that surprised me since she is not normally thought of as a Verdi mezzo. DiGiacomo floats some lovely soft high notes, including that treacherous B? in the Libera me, and also has the power for a rich, full-voiced high C shortly afterwards. The orchestral playing is superb, with some beautiful woodwind solos. The rehearsal and interview footage is particularly valuable, as it shows just how deeply Dudamel thinks about this music, and about how to lead it.
The video direction by Michael Beyer is directly from the “let’s not trust the viewer to be able to enjoy this if we hold any shot for too long” school. The view changes just about every five to 10 seconds; after a while it is annoying, and as it continues it moves from annoying to infuriating. The visual could enhance the audio, even at an unstaged concert, if the video director trusted the music and changed his shots from a musical rather than television-induced-limited-attention-span point of view. The sound quality, heard in PCM stereo, is a bit tight; I suspect that one has to mike Hollywood Bowl concerts fairly closely to avoid outside noise. But it is well balanced and clear, and one adapts quickly. There is an unnatural moment when the orchestra enters right after that soft high B? in Libera me, and I suspect it is an edit (note that two performance dates are given). Interestingly, that moment of the score is shown in the rehearsal footage and it is perfect there.
There are too many good videos of the Requiem to say that any one is “the best.” One certainly cannot downplay the famous Karajan/La Scala (on Philips), with Leontyne Price, Pavarotti, Cossotto, and Ghiaurov, nor the Abbado/LSO performance from Edinburgh (Kultur Video) with Margaret Price, Norman, Carreras, and Raimondi. There are also fine performances led by Bernstein, Barenboim, Maazel, Mehta, and others. If in addition one starts to list the really important audio recordings, it will use up pages of Fanfare space. Suffice it to say that this reading belongs on any list of important performances of this masterpiece, and that it signals the continuing growth and maturation of Gustavo Dudamel into someone I believe to be one of the most important musicians of the present and the next 30 or 40 years.
Requiem Massby Giuseppe Verdi Performer:
Julianna Digiacomo (Soprano),
Michelle DeYoung (Mezzo Soprano),
Vittorio Grigolo (Tenor),
Ildebrando D’arcangelo (Bass)
Los Angeles Master Chorale,
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1874; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 5 Customer Reviews )
OutstandingSeptember 27, 2014By Robert E. (New York, NY)See All My Reviews"A very intense and emotionally satisfying performance. Dudamel is most deeply involved in the score and he conveys a strong sense of controlled grandeur throughout this presentation. The singers are also deeply committed and sing with great artistry. Superb....kudos all around!"Report Abuse
terrific performances, horrible soud & prodcutionAugust 4, 2014By Michael Ebert (Rico, CO)See All My Reviews"The Hollywood Bowl is a terrible place to record classical music, and to make it worse, they obviously didn't have enough time to make technical elements (sound quality, rushing noises, camera work)worthy of this great piece, brilliantly performed by Dudamel, the soloists, the orchestra, and the LA Master Chorale. What a shame!"Report Abuse
Verdi's Requiem: Re-evaluated in the 21 CenturyFebruary 8, 2014By Luke Bryant (Oakleigh South, Victoria)See All My Reviews"The first performance of Verdi's Messa da Requiem was on 22 May 1874. This magnificent open air performance of Verdi's -Lament- here presented in the famous Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, freed from the precincts of cathedral doctrine, contains brilliant operatic singing and superb camera work that makes this Blue-ray dts-HD recording another must addition on my record shelf. The solarists are Juliana DiGiacomo (soprano), Michelle DeYoung (mezzo-soprano), Vittorio Grigolo (tenor), and Hdebrando DArchangelo (bass). This is music making that is stunning. The conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, controls the full cast with his hands (no baton) getting into every part of the music, explained in the -Behind The Scenes- interview. To quote from Warren Harris's earlier review - The result is amazing music that is both operatic and symphonic it quite simply doesnt get any better than this. And the fire and brimstone of the -Dies irae- is as wonderful as the -Requiem aeternam- and -Libera me- sections that bring this work to a close. However, as we are now more than a decade into the 21st Century, perhaps we should re-examine the composers -expression of grief- following the conductors holding of his audience of thousands in silent meditation of this performance, where no God - committed to justice - could hear the final Libera me - Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day - and grant forgiveness to so many of his -believiers- rife with covered up child molestation, while in other countries,slaughtering continues because of different religious belief. Please remember, belief is not fact, but unverified hearsay. This first class recording and performance gets 5+ Stars. Luke Bryant."Report Abuse