Nothing so visceral as Verdi’s Requiem

Nothing so visceral as Verdi’s Requiem


norman lebrecht

September 18, 2016

Before tonight’s opener of the London concert season, I asked various friends and acquaintances around the hall when they had last seen a live Verdi Requiem.

Answers ranged from three years to twenty.

The Requiem is not something one attends often. It is a rare treat for the soul, to be chosen with care with a cast of singers and a chorus and orchestra that must match the best.

Tonight’s performance met those criteria. Gianandrea Noseda conducted the London Symphony Orchestra and chorus in a reading of rare intensity and integration, the tension broken only once by a tubercular section of the audience.

The soloists – Erika Grimaldi, Daniela Barcellona, Francesco Meli and Michele Pertusi – were exquisitely contrasted and almost faultless in pitch. Grimaldi, heavily pregnant, crested the choral waves without apparent effort. Noseda, batonless, shaped the unwieldy mass into a precision force.

The closing Libera me was almost unbearably cathartic. Grimaldi was epic, indelible.



Why am I sharing this? (We are not a review site.)

Because tonight’s concert has launched the LSO’s Youtube channel tonight, will be shown on and will be repeated next month on tour in New York. It is one you may not wish to miss.




  • Daphne Badger says:

    I’m not sure it’s THAT big a treat. The Royal Albert Hall schedule features it on 24 September 2016 and 13 April 2017 both with the Royal Philharmonic, and the same hall saw it on 9 September at the Proms and on 8 May with the English Festival Orchestra. Perhaps they could try someone else’s Requiem from time to time?

    • Raymond Gubbay says:

      In the days before I sold the company which still bears my name, I avoided presenting the Verdi Requiem for the very reason that the subsidised orchestras could do it so much better themselves. So Saturday’s performance by my old company at the Royal Albert Hall, however well-intentioned, will inevitably feel second-rate when compared to the very recent, magnificent Proms performance at the same venue or the current performances by the LSO at the Barbican all of which will have had generous rehearsal time.

  • Anthony Kershaw says:

    It was absolute superb!

  • Una says:

    I find Nosea such an unnecessary fidget and a distraction when he conducts, not to mention all the pouring of sweat!

    Verdi Requiems all over the place lately, not least that one at the Proms with ‘hysterical’ instruments! Couldn’t agree more – find someone else’s Requiem for a change!

  • Alexander Hall says:

    Chacun à son goût, as the French would have it. There comes a point where “fiery and urgent” tips dangerously over into the merely brutal. I for one have never heard the “Dies irae” despatched with so little sense of terrible majesty (William Blake’s “Tyger tyger” springs to mind), compounded by the appalling acoustics in the Barbican which do nothing to turn the mundane into the celestial. Not a Verdi requiem that will linger in my memory, I’m afraid. By the way, London is certainly not short of upcoming requiems by Mr Green: the Philharmonia are also due to do one under Edward Gardner in November.

  • R. Brite says:

    I’ve seen it at least 3 times at the Proms alone. The 9 September performance by a much-augmented Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment was, IMO, the most enjoyable of them, even if soloists Tamara Wilson, Alisa Kolosova, Dimitri Pittas (admirably subbing at last minute for the ailing Michael Fabiano) and Morris Robinson were criticised for not sounding Italian enough (all except Kolosova are American, but then so am I, whence perhaps my enjoyment of their work). The ginormous BBC Proms Youth Choir did a lovely job, I thought. You might as well ask people not to do so many Mozart Requiems.