Music review: Verdi’s Requiem

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Edinburgh International Festival: It’s become a cliché to say that in his Requiem, Verdi transplanted the drama of the opera house into the church – or, in this case, the concert hall.

Usher Hall

*****

But when the performers are soloists, orchestra and chorus from Turin’s Teatro Regio, already in town for stagings of Macbeth and La bohème, that statement becomes all the more true.

This was a magnificently hair-raising account under Gianandrea Noseda – unashamedly theatrical, but never calculating or played for shallow effect. He kept his forces on a tight leash, yet it still felt as if we were discovering the work for the first time. Expansive and unhurried in slower movements, he drove Verdi’s faster music onwards furiously.

His dies irae, in particular, was viciously intense, fast and harrowingly apocalyptic, putting the orchestra’s characterful brass and woodwind in the spotlight.

There was no attempt, either, to smooth over the rather contrasting vocal styles of the four soloists, but that only added to their character and clarity when they were singing together.

The Turin chorus, too, were thrillingly adaptable in hushed, half-heard whispers and ear-splitting climaxes – as well as bringing a ringing clarity to the dense, joyful counterpoint of the sanctus. Noseda offered a visionary account, at times raw with anguish, yet full of hope.