from Steven Blier:
To commemorate this sad, solemn day, I turn to the things that have comforted me during my life. One of them is the Verdi Requiem, a towering work of art. I first fell under its spell when I was thirteen; the Price-Bjoerling recording was a bar mitzvah present. Here is a very rare 1960 performance that I didn’t even know existed, conducted by the maestro I revere the most, Carlo Maria Giulini. Joan Sutherland and Fiorenza Cossotto are the female soloists, both at the beginning of their international careers. The Sutherland you’ll hear in this recording might surprise you: a fiery musician with clear diction and a firm, clarion line. What a pleasure to hear that peerless voice wedded to Giulini’s Olympian artistic vision. The gleam of her sound transcends the tubby recorded quality, even on my computer speakers. “Recordare,” the soprano/mezzo duet, starts at minute 25; the “Libera me” gets underway at 1:06:30.
This has been a rewarding, full summer. But it was also a summer of losses: Jim Marcus, Margaret Juntwait, Marshall Izen, Steve Damron’s dad, Robert Duerr’s father, my piano tuner Alexander Ostrovsky, and just this weekend John Perrault, the husband of a close friend. I take comfort from the idea that they are now hearing Sutherland and Giulini in heaven doing all the works they should have done together during their terrestrial years. Recordings of Don Giovanni and the Verdi Requiem are all that we poor mortals have from them.