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Recorded at what turned out to be the late Sir Colin Davis’s last concert with his beloved LSO, this live recording of Berlioz’s gargantuan and audacious Requiem was made in the all-enveloping acoustics of St Paul’s Cathedral in June last year. The recording captures the sense of occasion that must accompany any performance of this extraordinary work, whose demands on soloist, chorus and orchestra – and, for that matter, the listener – are massive. Davis distils a lifetime’s practical expertise with Berlioz into a performance that is noble, thrill- ing, intimate and richly satisfying. His orchestra plays for him as if possessed and the massed choirs are exceptional in what they deliver. Tenor Barry Banks provides just the right combination of sweetness and power in the Sanctus, his one solo. Of course, the St Paul’s acoustics are as difficult to cope with on CD as they are in the building, but the engineers have worked wonders. Even if you have Davis’s 1960s recording of the Requiem, it is worth investing in this new one to savour his insights.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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