Jun 9, 2009

Muti's Requiem

Giuseppe Verdi
Barbara Frittoli, soprano
Olga Borodina, mezzo-soprano
Ramon Vargas, tenor
Ildar Abdrazakov, bass

Choeurs de Radio France, Matthias Brauer chorus master
Orchestre National de France
Riccardo Muti, conduction

Basilique de Saint-Denis
Medici.tv broadcast
June 8, 2009

Riccardo Muti & l'Orchestre National de France, Saint-Denis, 2006 © AFP

I initially didn't intend to review the Verdi's Requiem that Muti conducted yesterday, but, since I've been asked to, how can I resist sharing here the marvels Riccardo Muti once again accomplished in Saint-Denis?
Ultimately, the true star of any of Muti's performances is the composer, and he's uniquely talented, I think, especially when it comes to Verdi (and Berlioz too, and Gluck, and Mozart, ... you get the point) to extract the quintessential beauty of the score. Verdi's music can indeed be quite magical when performed in such a manner.

His requiem sure sounded amazingly well under the baton of Muti.

The chorus led by Matthias Brauer delivered a fantastic performance throughout the piece, to the level of the one they gave in February, with beautiful pianissimi and a splendid performance of the famous Dies irae.

The orchestra was overall also very good, and the conduction of Muti elevated Verdi's music to a heavenly level, with all the flamboyant tempi and gorgeous nuances one dreams of hearing.

Although she looked like she was floating in an alternate universe, Olga Borodina delivered a stunning performance as well. I was less impressed by Barbara Frittoli, who didn't quite deliver adequately the low notes (not loud enough) and Ramon Vargas, who had a few ugly high notes and was closely monitored all concert long by Riccardo Muti, to prevent him from yelling his notes. But overall, both of them were good.

Ildar Abdrazakov was the angel of the basilique, with his velvety timbre and delicate phrasing. He delivered such an exquisite performance he almost shadowed Muti. If that's not the ultimate compliment, coming from me...

Le Monde, Marie-Aude Roux, June 10 Riccardo Muti transcende le Requiem de Verdi
" A bientôt 68 ans (il est né le 28 juillet 1941), le maestro italien est au zénith de son art. Sa Missa da Requiem est une véritable leçon de style et d'élégance, qui n'exclut pas l'émotion mais la transcende.
(...) Le Choeur de Radio France, galvanisé, quoique fermement tenu, s'est surpassé en intelligibilité et en intelligence.
(...) On oubliera vite quelques imperfections de Barbara Frittoli (vibrato un peu large) dans la petite cantate pour soprano solo qu'est le "Libera me" ("Délivre-moi Seigneur de la mort éternelle"). Suspendu à la baguette de Riccardo Muti, soucieux de ses moindres intentions, donné à lui dans ce qu'il faut bien appeler une communion en musique et en esprit, l'Orchestre national a confirmé qu'il est bien le meilleur des deux orchestres de Radio France. "


Mary McGagh said...

I was surprised to read some negative comments concerning the performance of Ramon Vargas. Vargas, along with Rolando Villazon, is a great favorite at the NY Metropolitan.

Extatic said...

Honestly, I've always been wondering why, because his high register is quite unappealing to me.

Mary McGagh said...

In May I attended a performance of Un bal masqué at the Opéra Bastille, expecting to hear Ramon Vargas. However, Vargas was replaced because of illness by Evan Bowers, who was a superb Riccardo.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this.
Yesterday he conducted Demofoonte in Palais Garnier. Any impressions from it, please? I'd be grateful to report everything in English.

Extatic said...

I'll attend next Tuesday performance (June 16).
Stay tuned!