For the third time this season, Riccardo Muti led performances of Verdi’s Requiem, this time as part of the Easter Festival 2019 at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden, Germany.
The two sold-out weekend concerts featured the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Choir and soloists on April 14 and 20. Muti, the Zell Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has made the Requiem one of his signature works; his 2009 release with the CSO, Chorus and soloists of the Requiem on CSO Resound won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Recording and Best Choral Performance. Of the sacred work, Muti has said, “Everybody can see and identify himself in the music of Verdi. With this music, he translated the feelings of all of us.”
In November, Muti conducted the CSO in the Requiem during three sold-out concerts at Symphony Center, and in February, he and the CSO performed the work twice while on their Asia Tour, with programs on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 in Tokyo. Among the soloists at Symphony Center and on tour were soprano Vittoria Yeo and tenor Francesco Meli. At Baden-Baden, Yeo and Meli were joined by mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and bass Ildar Abdrazakov.
Of the Baden-Baden concert on April 14, the Pforzheimer Zeitung noted that “Riccardo Muti, whose Verdi interpretations have set the standards, conducted with utmost concentration.” The article went on to describe the performance as “a funeral mass with the dignity of a liturgical ceremony [transforming] into a ringing sculpture, unveiling a poignant tone of worldly devotion.”
Lotte Thaler of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote: “How Muti increased the tension, picked up the tempo and delayed again at the climax, breathing the vocal parts in crescendos and decrescendos, attaching religious significance to the many solos in the orchestra, spoke of the decades of experience with this work, but above all the personal concerns. Verdi’s Requiem is Muti’s sanctum.”
TOP: Muti leads the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Choir and soprano Vittoria Yeo, mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, tenor Francesco Meli and bass Ildar Abdrazakov in Verdi’s Requiem. | Photo: ©Monika Rittenshaus