The Requiem to end all requiems. Violetta Urmana performs the "Libera Me" (01:06:34) with the utmost brilliance that's rarely heard with such an imposing music. This is the hardest movement of the whole Requiem. I adore her smooth and rounded tone. She doesn't exaggerate the drama. Her top register is ringing with a lot of heft to it. She starts the piece with confidence and found her C right away in the recitative opening. It's rather tricky since the preceding piece ends in B-flat major. You'll find that other soloists scoop up the note, grasping to try to find the right one. Not cute.
At "Tremens, Factus, sum ego" (01:07:56), her low notes is good, it doesn't fall into chest voice.
The "Dies Irae" in this is so earth-shattering and intimidating that when Faure set out to write his Requiem, he didn't even bother to write a "Dies Irae". Nothing else come close to describe an Almighty Being just let loose to pour his boiling wrath upon the Earth. With terrorizing hail, glowing brimstone. The piccolo shrills, the drum thunders, the trombones deafening. Calamitatis, indeed.
The Andante section (01:11:49) is an incredibly difficult passage. It requires you to have two sets of lungs to sustain the long phrases. To sing a long-winding bel canto in both high and low tessitura like this is so much more challenging than to sing fast and forte. In this, you need control and breath support. Listen to 01:12:38 where she connect the "Domine" crescendo to "et lux perpetua" with changes in color as she enters the new phrase. That's incredible breathing technique. That, you'll hardly find in other performers.
The way she sings high note starts from soft to loud at 01:13:59 is gorgeous. The note is precise, light and intense at the same time.
The gem is the end of the first part (01:14:33) when she sings "Requiem" and the note raised to high B-flat. It creates a perdendosi lift that makes the note floats in the air. To do it in pianissississimo (marked pppp) as she does is a superhuman ability. Not heard since the great Monserrat Caballe (which apart from this, has the best Verdi Requiem). She just floats so effortlessly and without break. Again, no one is able to do it like her. Most sung it forte, which is wrong. On top of it, this passage is an acapella.
The second part has the delicious fugue writing. What can I say... Verdi really has a knack to write epic music. I love the choir performing this with enough aggressiveness. The piece concludes from 01:18:38 with the bass singing "Dum veneris judicare saeculum" building up in volume to give way for the final showdown of the soprano to deliver the most explosive high C in two and a half bars. It is nuclear with the trumpet blaring pa, pa, pa, paaaaam. Incredibly, reaching that highest note is not as difficult if you have a diaphragm of steel. It's a scale. But the soft last few notes are much more demanding. Especially the conductor draws out the tempo like this. To be able to sing the hushed "Libera Me" after all that screaming is incredible. Don't forget to listen to the divine Caballe with John Barbirolli.