Between 1961 and 1986, Herbert von Karajan made three recordings of the Mozart Requiem for Deutsche Grammophon, with little change in his conception of the piece over the years. This recording, from 1975, is, on balance, the best of them. The approach is Romantic, broad, and sustained, marked by a thoroughly homogenized blend of chorus and orchestra, a remarkable richness of tone, striking power, and an almost marmoreal polish. Karajan viewed the Requiem as idealized church music rather than a confessional statement awash in operatic expressiveness. In this account, the orchestra is paramount, followed in importance by the chorus, then the soloists. Not surprisingly, the singing of the solo quartet sounds somewhat reined-in, especially considering these singers' pedigrees. By contrast, the Vienna Singverein, always Karajan's favorite chorus, sings with a huge dynamic range and great intensity, though with an emotional detachment nonetheless. Perfection, if not passion or poignancy, is the watchword. The Berlin orchestra plays majestically, and the sound is pleasingly vivid.
Beethoven called Mozart's Requiem "wild and terrible", and that's what we get in Harnoncourt's new recording. Ominous dread hangs from every note of the dark opening measures, the Rex tremendae and Confutatis are driven with terrifying strength, and the supplications of the Lacrimosa, with their weeping stabbings of the orchestra, are freighted with emotional power. The Tuba mirum duet of bass soloist and trombone has a beauty almost never achieved in other readings. Nor does Harnoncourt overstep the stylistic boundaries of this classical-era work; rather, the intensity is heightened for being in the idiom of its time.
Mozart's Requeim is another masterpiece where he unleashes his overwhelming genius, which even his jealous contemporaries could not not find words for other than "divine". At the same time, it is also a subject of great controversy as to how the unfinished portions should have been completed (serious listeners should try to learn more about how Sussmayr completed the work and how his work is criticized). Whatever the case, this is unquestionably one of the greatest works of art ever created by man….
On July 16, 1999, the tenth anniversary of the death of Herbert von Karajan, the Berliner Philharmoniker paid tribute to their late maestro in his home town of Salzburg. In a live shooting from the imposing Salzburg Cathedral, Claudio Abbado conducted an all- Mozart programme, honouring his predecessor both by the careful selection of the music and the singers. The Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Claudio Abbado, performed Mozart's Requiem in D minor, KV 626, among other works. Soprano Rachel Harnisch appeared as the soloist on the two complementing arias Betrachte dies mein Herz und frage mich and Laudate Dominum Featuring soprano Karita Mattila, contralto Sara Mingardo, tenor Michael Schade and bass baritone Bryn Terfel as soloists of the Requiem. A performance that in every respect met Karajan's own high artistic standards. Lovingly restored and carefully brought to HD, this unique performance of the Berliner Philharmoniker at Salzburg Cathedral is now finally available on Blu-ray Disc.