Davis, Colin

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Angela Maria Blasi
Mezzo-Soprano: Marjana Lipovšek
Tenor: Uwe Heilmann
Bass-Baritone: Jan-Hendrik Rootering

Choir: Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Orchestra: Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis

Date: 1991

Label: RCA Red Seal
Cat No.: 09026 63982 2
Released: 2002
Colin Davis’s 1991 recording of the Requiem – released to celebrate the three hundredth year of Mozart’s death – returns to the catalogue. The booklet combines a photograph of traditional Viennese spires (laced with frosted snow) and modish lower case type. In the corner, to remind us of RCA’s commitment to the latest technology, a box announces 24bit/96khz Sound Dimension. The performance enshrined within is, however, more in keeping with the rooftops than the lower case – it is weighty, burnished, serious and solemn. There is a fine quartet of soloists, a splendid orchestra and an even more splendid chorus who, under chorus master Michael Gläser, are in frequently inspired form.

The performance will divide critical opinion. Some will admire its single-minded and deliberate concentration, the grave and nourishing exploration of text and music, whilst others will find it insufficiently dramatic, its internal contrasts smoothed out, the dynamism of the movements elided in the interests of a consonant gravity. It is a traditional reading, slow and determined but much about it inspires real praise – the gloriously and powerfully directional Kyrie, the chorus’ magnificent entries in the Dies Irae and their ringingly bright tenors. Davis moulds the string figuration here with real finesse and encourages very pleasing results from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The Tuba mirum introduces bass Jan-Hendrick Rootering – first class in tone and dramatic impetus – and the bright tenor of Uwe Heilmann. Angela Maria Blasi has an intrinsically attractive voice but gets off to a sticky start with her series of glissandi, which are rather too prominent for comfort. Marjana Lipovšek lives up to her reputation and, with tonal congruence, blends with her partners to noble effect.

There are some questionable tempo decisions. Though the soloists are uniformly excellent in the Recordare I can certainly imagine them happier at a more flowing speed and Domine Jesu Christe sounds rather dogged – albeit the basses articulate with real freedom. Still Davis insists on choral diminuendi in the Hostias that sound affecting without calling attention to themselves and layers string accompaniment with accustomed and practiced skill. The chorus’ ability to articulate with clarity whilst also singing very softly is at its most pronounced in the Agnus Dei where Davis’ ability to arch movements is richly beneficial.

For those who admire performances of this kind – grave but certainly not marmoreal – this well played and sung disc will be an attractive proposition. Those seeking a more thrusting and theatrical performance will look elsewhere – maybe, indeed, to Davis’ own earlier recording.
— Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International