The DVD has a wonderfully three-dimensional Dolby-Digital 5.1 sound mix that brings the Salzburg Cathedral ambience alive, and a stunningly detailed and clear anamorphically enhanced picture. Documentation is minimal; no texts, subtitles, or information about either Von Karajan or Rachel Harnisch is given. There is only one special feature, which is not documented on the disc: by default the disc offers a standard multi-camera view, but at a press of the Angle button it switches to a second set of cameras focused entirely on Abbado.–Gary S. Dalkin, Amazon.co.uk
Frieder Bernius and his Stuttgart forces weigh in with one of the finer Mozart Requiems in a very crowded field–and to ensure this performance’s relative exclusivity, it’s one of only a handful of recordings that use the edition by Franz Beyer, an intelligent and persuasive 1971 effort to correct “obvious textural errors” and some decidedly un-Mozartian features in the orchestration attributable to Franz Süssmayr, Mozart’s pupil/assistant who completed the work after the master’s death. This live concert performance from 1999 offers well-set tempos (including a vigorous Kyrie fugue), infectious rhythmic energy from both chorus and orchestra, robust, precise, musically compelling choral singing, a first rate quartet of soloists–and, especially considering its concert-performance setting, impressively detailed and vibrant sonics. The CD also features informative notes by Beyer himself.
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.