Donizetti: Requiem8:00, 22nd February 2018
Natalia Runiš (sop), Agniezka Rehlis (mez), Jaroslav Březina (ten), Jirí Brückler, Jan Martiník (bas); Collegium Vocale 1704; Collegium 1704/Václav Luks Frederyk Chopin Institute NIFCDVD-006 77 mins
Donizetti’s Requiem of 1835 is well worthy of acquaintance. Heard here performed on period instruments in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Warsaw as part of a ‘Chopin and his Europe’ festival, Donizetti’s piece was written in response to Bellini’s death; and of course Bellini’s cantabile influence is hugely evident in Chopin’s output. While sometimes pointing at Rossini, sometimes Verdi, Donizetti’s Requiem breathes its own rather concentrated atmosphere. There are five soloists (two basses), and a slight bias towards the male voice; the soloists here blend together well, with Březina a strong tenor who is capable of a beautifully sweet tone.
Luks directs a most affectionate performance, his orchestra ever sensitive, his choir beautifully balanced in slower, more chordally based passages. The bright sound of the orchestra suits the magisterial ‘Rex tremendae’ perfectly; only occasionally the church acoustic blurs lines and textures (similarly in the ‘Confutatis’). Documentation and presentation are impeccable; the picture is somewhat grainy but don’t let that put you off.