Review Summary: A compelling piece of Classical music, but there are too many dull moments that make this a definite ‘steer-clear’ for the casual listener.
A symphony of destruction; powerful, evil, and aggressive. With such a description, you’d think that Verdi’s “Requiem” is one of the finest pieces of Classical music to ever be heard. Sadly, it only really depicts one song; the dominant second track, titled “Dies Irae”. Having initially heard this track as my only experience with this Requiem (which features in the film ‘Battle Royale’), I hoped that by picking up this album, I’d be equally as impressed with the rest of it.
In the music industry, there always seems to be such a pressure to appreciate the umbrella of ‘Classical’ music; but as far as I’m concerned, if it’s boring or uninspiring to me, then I don’t see why I should listen to it. And don’t get me wrong, this album is host of some absolutely magical moments; packed full of awe-inspiring crescendos and some incredible choir-writing. Upon listening to these, I think to myself “how could I ever consider giving this Requiem a 3.5?”
Then “Dies Irae” kicks in, and I’m simply lost for words.
Notwithstanding the second track, this album is almost a microcosm of everything I think is good and bad about ‘Classical’ music; there are some breathtaking moments, commanding and prevailing, but then it almost always stops abruptly, and you’re left with about 3 minutes of barely-audible strings.
Literally translated, a Requiem is “a mass for the dead”. Unfortunately, the majority of this Requiem reminds me of my primary school memories of a Catholic Mass; not an uninvited pain in the rectum, but more that it is fairly boring. What annoys me is the way that the “exciting” parts are maintained; something incredible happens, your ears prick up attention, only to hear this fantastic sound fall back into a sea of mediocrity.
And subconsciously, I can’t help but compare this to Mozart’s Requiem. This was written nearly 100 years after, but doesn’t seem to be anywhere near to the magnificence of it; and Mozart wasn’t even renowned for writing terror-inducing pieces.
Though in isolation Verdi’s “Dies Irae” is simply one of the greatest pieces I’ve ever heard in my life; not just of Classical music, but music in general, it seems a huge shame that the rest of his Requiem is overshadowed by this one piece. It’s almost as if Verdi himself recognised this- with snippets of “Dies Irae” being repeated throughout this album.
Listen to Dies Irae, but be wary of judging the album on this one song.
Mistaking Mozart’s Requiem for this one.