Daniel Ginsberg’s statement about the Choral Arts Society’s Matthew Passion - the performance having been more than the sum of its parts – applied then in the sense of good things coming together to form something sublime. It applied to the to the Requiem this Thursday also – albeit on a different, somewhat lower level.
Among the performers, only mezzo Olga Borodina was beyond reproach. (Her recording of the Verdi Requiem under Gergiev is sadly rendered unlistenable by Andrea Bocelli’s horrific performance. [He’s much better now, actually.]) Tenor Marcus Haddock, who enjoys a career that brings him to all the respected opera houses in the world, was very dramatic and had a tendency to substitute loudness for volume – causing passages to sound narrow and forced, especially early on in the work. The MET-hardened Verdi-soprano Marina Mescheriakova had a few characteristically glorious moments but unfortunately also many lesser ones. Bass Ildar Abdrazakov was consistent and solid.
Robert Shafer’s Washington Chorus performed mightily – but without the definition, flexibility and responsiveness that I have heard it display on other occasions. The NSO was blameless without going beyond the call of duty.
The work is a bear to perform, much less to conduct, so the young French counductor Stéphane Denève, too, cannot be faulted with losing grasp of the many threads. It goes to the credit of all of those involved that the performance still convinced. It had drama to spare – explosive and attention grabbing moments with brass-broadsides, timpani-thunder and trumpet calls from all directions. The NSO and The Washington Chorus will perform again today, Friday, and Saturday at 8 PM.
G. Verdi, Requiem, Giulini
G. Verdi, Requiem, J.E. Gardiner
Tim Page's more positive review can be read here.