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Not publicly performed until 1870, Donizetti’s Messa di Requiem in D minor was composed in 1835 for the death of Bellini, Donizetti’s compatriot and bel canto rival. In the Italian religious repertoire of the 19th century, the work has long been overshadowed by Verdi’s Requiem and Four Sacred Pieces, as well as Rossini’s Stabat Mater; but this new recording, with a decent quintet of soloists, and a generally fine chorus and orchestra under the direction of Corrado Rovaris, makes strong claims for the work’s merits. By turns warm and lyrical, then dramatic and powerful, Rovaris eschews any exaggeration of Donizetti’s intentions and simply lets the music speak for itself – and the performance is all the better for it. The applause at the end betrays the fact this is a live recording, though this is not stated in the booklet.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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