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The germ of Verdi’s Requiem grew from the idea of a musical memorial for Rossini, the Messa per Rossini. In 1868, when Rossini died, Verdi proposed that a collective of Italian composers each provided a section of music for a requiem to honour him. So, 12 men each produced a composition, with Verdi’s Libera me being the 13th and final piece. A premiere in Bologna was planned, after which the compositions would be sealed and archived for posterity. Alas squabbling derailed the performance, which was cancelled, and the music didn’t see the light of day until it was discovered over a hundred years later. Verdi reused and refined his own contribution in his 1874 Requiem, composed in memory of Manzoni, the great writer and poet of the Risorgimento. The beauty of this recording is the exceptional standard of choral singing from the chorus of La Scala, under Riccardo Chailly. The five soloists are not so inspiring, though Maria José Siri does rise to the soprano demands of the Libera me.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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