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RECORDINGS: ALLA BREVE

February 16, 1986|JOE SALTZMAN

BERLIOZ: REQUIEM ("GRANDE MESSE DES MORTS"); BOITO: PROLOGUE TO "MEFISTOFELE"; VERDI: "TE DEUM." John Aler, tenor; John Cheek, bass; Morehouse-Spelman Chorus; Young Singers of Callanwolde; Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. Telarc CD 80109, two compact discs. This is a compelling group of pieces that fit nicely together--Boito's Mefistofele (portrayed by Cheek in fine voice but with little drama) appearing before the court of Heaven; Verdi's deeply committed sacred piece, sung by a choir whose voices are perfectly balanced in a keenly felt performance, and Berlioz's spectacular "Day of Judgment," a measured performance building to one of the most powerful climaxes ever put on disc. The CD sound is awesome--its wide dynamic range captures hushed entrances, burst of timpani and brass, individual voices blended into the whole. This CD, unlike others that seem to put the music in a vacuum, also captures the spacious ambiance of a specific place, in this case, Atlanta Symphony Hall.

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