I believe I know every little bit, every breath, every note sung in this recording. I was always listening to it in the years when I was walking to school. I had a tape of it, and listened to this on my walkman(see also here). As a result I’m spoilt. I can never listen to a different recording without thinking: hey, this is not good! This should be different! I know this can be so much better!
Verdi started with his requiem in frustration. A previous collaborative attempt at composing a requiem for the other famous Italian opera composer Rossini botched. It was fully written, but never performed, probably because of a lack of enthusiasm by the chosen conductor. What remained became part of the new requiem. It was composed to commemorate writer Alessandro Manzoni, who died in 1873, a year before the requiem premiered.
This work should be a work of quiet contemplation. Verdi made it into an orchestral fireworks. His rex tremendae sounds like choral cannon shots. It all sounds like opera, but what can you expect from the most successful opera composer in Italy?
This was the third time Giulini recorded the Verdi requiem. He is kind of a Verdi specialist, and his recordings are highly praised. Maybe my preference for this one is not for nothing.