, July 2012
ICA unearths a rare, real treasure in the performance (26 August 1956) in Cologne, Germany of the 1837 Berlioz Requiem by Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960)…Mitropoulos’ natural fiery temperament coincides well with the music of Berlioz…
From the first, the hugely-mounted Cologne performance of the Berlioz Requiem evinces the Berlioz self-proclaimed requisites: “passionate expression, intense ardor, rhythmical animation, and unexpected turns.” The sheer scale of the Dies Irae cannot be contained by the standard mono CD medium, so vast are the sonic components of brass, strings, tympani, and choruses. The four corners of the earth announce the Day of Judgment, and apocalyptic does rage the mass of sound. The plaintive combination of two English horns, bassoons, and double basses and reduced men’s chorus provides an eerie aftermath to Judgment in the Quid sum miser, intimate but emotionally desolate. A huge “Rex!” ensues, with Mitropoulos’ urging some degree of optimism in the mixed chorus’ beseeching for Eternal mercy. A cappella, the Quarens me offers another plaintive moment of reflection, a moment Verdi would copy in the first of his own Four Sacred Pieces. The muted voices concluding the movement strike me as particularly effective.
With the 9/8 Lachyrmosa, we reach the convulsive center of the Requiem. Mitropoulos’ heated fervor in this movement makes us forget any sense of the sonata-form that would like to contain the anguish in convention. If a visual analogy can exist here, we would have to read sections from Dante, the added brass and tympani’s contributing to a delirium, a paroxysm of penitence.
A Best of the Year entry, without a doubt! © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review