Skip to product information
1 of 3

Messa Da Requiem

Messa Da Requiem

Regular price $23.99 USD
Regular price $23.99 USD Sale price $23.99 USD
Sale Currently Out Of Stock
Shipping calculated at checkout.

Winner of a 2022 Edison Klassiek Award!

‘A tribute of respectful affection, the expression of my sorrow.’ -Verdi about his Messa da Requiem

The Munich performances of Verdi's Messa da Requiem in October 1981 were concert events that have hardly been equaled since, let alone surpassed – so powerful were the chorus and orchestra, so strictly did the maestro keep his eye on the interpretation, and so superb were the renowned soloists - singers of international renown who gave their all to achieve the best possible result. And they all succeeded brilliantly.

Finally – four decades later - BR-KLASSIK can now present this absolute pinnacle in the performance history of Verdi's MESSA DA REQUIEM on album. The audience was spellbound and totally captivated, and there was glowing praise from the critics: the powerful work, they said, had hardly ever been heard like this on this side of the Alps; Riccardo Muti had demonstrated how Verdi's Requiem should sound; this performance of Verdi's requiem mass was authentic, frightening, tender and terrifying, providing a timid yet hopeful glimpse of transcendence; all in all, a truly resounding success. Wolf-Dieter Peter, a reviewer for the Mittelbayrische Zeitung in Regensburg (see booklet), was there at the time and reported how the extra trumpets positioned in the gallery of the Herkulessaal “blasted a glistening jet of metallic sound across the stalls, almost as if from the afterlife”. It was something, he said, that had "never been seen, heard or experienced like this before... simply unforgettable."

This recording won the 2022 Edison Klassiek Award - equivalent to the GRAMMYs in classical music in the Netherlands - in the category The Document, for an outstanding recording from the past brought forth in the present.


This brilliant performance of Verdi's Requiem from 1981 voices heaven and hell, love and fear in a sublime synchronicity of conductor, choir and soloists. This live recording lets us hear what happens when everything comes together in an optimal way, namely eternal beauty.

--2022 Edison Klassiek Award Citation

At 35 José Carreras was nearly in the prime bloom of his voice; he sings the “Ingemisco” with style and no signs of operatic excess. Baltsa is also memorable for her musical, totally sincere performance. Nesterenko might not show much comprehension of the text, but he is vocally magnificent.

Jessye Norman is the revelation of the Munich performance. In the soft music she sings with tender delicacy, ravishing tone, and a total lack of the grand manner that would eventually develop. Her “Libera me” is completely secure—it strikes me as the equal for vocal glamor and thrilling high notes of the young Leontyne Price under Fritz Reiner (Decca). Norman doesn’t sound especially Italianate, but that’s a minor consideration, and in the “Libera me” Muti contrasts her intense emotion with hushed mystery from the chorus.

This all adds up to something unexpected, a new addition to the discography of this much-recorded—and much revered—work that deserves to stand beside the classics from any era. That it sounds so splendid is more than welcome, perfectly rounding out a must-listen that no lover of the Verdi Requiem should miss.

 -- Fanfare

BR Klassik has released this live recording of Verdi’s Messa da Requiem to mark the forty years since its performance in October 1981 in the Herkulessaal, Munich. Riccardo Muti’s set of performances conducting the Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks was greatly acclaimed by audiences and critics alike and were the maestro’s first appearances in the Bavarian city. One does wonder why such an outstanding recording wasn’t released much earlier.

For this performance, Muti assembled an impressive roster of soloists. At the time, the late American soprano Jessye Norman was completing the first phase of her career that had been predominantly based in Europe and had mainly involved oratorios and solo recitals. In 1981, Norman was in her mid-thirties and still a year off making her first USA opera appearance. She excels in the Requiem, her soprano sounding fresh and clean with an unaffected purity and an uncommonly focused projection. Concluding the work is the lengthy Libera me, rather like a complete opera scena. Norman convincingly intones the prayer for absolution followed by the chorus imploring the merciful Lord for his forgiveness on that awful day of judgement with the wrath to come. In particular, the section Requiem aeternam dona eis with chorus is beautifully achieved by Norman, gloriously soaring seraphically to her high notes without strain and ending in a hushed whisper.

A late replacement in the part, Spanish tenor José Carreras was also then in his mid-thirties and in his prime. Featuring in many Verdi opera performances and recordings, Carreras is noted for his passionate expression and the beauty of his voice. In the Ingemisco the tenor implores God that on the last day of judgment, He will forgive his sins and grant him mercy. With his voice in such splendid condition Carreras might well be singing an opera aria, yet he delivers the sacred text with dedication, retaining reverential conviction.

Renowned Greek mezzo-soprano Agnes Baltsa was no stranger to Munich, having undertaken part of her training in the city. In 1980 she was honored with the title of Kammersängerin of the Wiener Staatsoper. Under Muti’s baton, in the Liber scriptus section of the Sequentia, the resolute Baltsa gives her all, standing out in a performance of real passion.

The bass role is taken by the Moscow-born Yevgeny Nesterenko. A member of the Kirov, in 1971 Nesterenko joined the Bolshoi, becoming renowned as a leading bass in the company. A greatly experienced singer, his unaffected voice isn’t as weighty and voluminous as many basses, yet it can produce color and displays a talent for expression.  He is best heard in the Confutatis maledictis where his grayish tone attains a fulfilling level of menace that isn’t overplayed. Prepared by British chorus master Gordon Kember, who was new in the role, the glorious-sounding and well unified Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks provides an invaluable contribution.

Muti’s conducting communicates a palpable sense of occasion, producing a performance that achieves at turns extreme beauty, bitter sorrow, fierce intensity, and sacred awe. Striking in magnificent opening of the Dies irae, the large forces come together for a compelling and full-blooded depiction of Judgement Day.

Recording in the renowned acoustic of the Herkulessaal the sound engineers provide splendid clarity and balance, astutely capturing an atmosphere that feels ideally suited to the sacred text. (By the way, additional trumpets were positioned at the rear of the hall gallery). There is an essay ‘Intensely Gripping’ by Wolf-Dieter Peter, and a summarized version of a conversation between recording producer Wilhelm Meister and recording engineer Martin Wöhr. Latin texts with English translations are included in the booklet.

Overall, this 1981 Muti performance of Verdi’s magnificent Messa da Requiem has convincing impact. Standing out is the spine-chilling dread of the Dies Irae that contrasts markedly with the inspiring and consoling elements of the score. It is simply top drawer.

--MusicWeb International (Michael Cookson)

View full details

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 08, 2021

  • UPC: 4035719001990

  • Catalog Number: BRK900199

  • Label: BR-KLASSIK

  • Number of Discs: 2

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

  • Conductor: Riccardo Muti

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Jessye Norman, José Carreras, Agnes Baltsa, Yevgeny Nesterenko


  1. Requiem Mass

    Composer: Giuseppe Verdi

    Ensemble: Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Chorus

    Performer: Jesse Norman (Soprano), Agnes Baltsa (Mezzo Soprano), José Carreras (Tenor), Evgeny Nesterenko (Bass)

    Conductor: Riccardo Muti