A performance of Verdi's Requiem is always a festive event. Leonti Wolf's Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir releases tremendous energy and sounds consolidated, sonorous, well-balanced and enthusiastic. There is no question it contributes a significant share to the sense of festivity. So does the rich, colourful and cohesive sound of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein.
But being that I've heard this inspiring and demanding work several times in recent years, I've become spoiled to a degree and have less patience for soloists that are anything other than excellent. Paata Burchuladze, however, was excellent, with a dark, resounding bass and intense expression that overshadowed his peers.
Emil Ivanov displayed an appealing lyric tenor, but lacked the radiance that illuminates the whole work from its very beginning. Soprano Michel Crider started the "Agnus Dei" with ingratiating soft notes that mercifully helped one forget the shrill, strained high tones of her other parts. But her concluding "Libera me" - an invocation that is the internalized cilimax of the whole work and the antithesis of the tempestuous "Dies Irae" - sounded like an insignificant afterthought. Katja Lytting's warm and friendly mezzo-soprano was also too unsteady for comfort.