Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Verdi Requiem, that first work of the final trilogy that crowned Giuseppe Verdi's life and accomplishment, was revealed anew at the Kennedy Center Tuesday night as Mistislay Rostropovich conducted it with the National Symphony, the Maryland University Chorus, and an especially distinguished quartet of soloists.
Music has no parallel for this Verdi, in which his faith in all its profound depths stands free and glorious. And Washington has never heard a performance like this one, in which Rostropovich moved not only into music in the grandest Italian manner, but also into the realm of the spiritual.
In every way his conception was, to the letter, Verdian and deeply moving. No accent was unobserved, no call for dynamic shadings, unmarked. The orchestra played superbly, with trumpets in the top galleries, and the chorus was glorious throughout.
At Verdi's direction for whispered phrases, or somber texture, the chorus answered. Rostropovich's directions. For these and many other reasons, the Requiem emerged with its terror uncovered, its ultimate realization of peace foreshadowed.
As in any Verdi opera, the soloists in the Requiem are, with the chorus, of central importance. The quartet signing Tuesday night was as near an ideal in individual achievements and balance as you are likely to hear today. Galine Vishnevskay's soprano shone at every point, clear, brilliant like a diamond, radiant in the high pianissimo notes that dot the part, and stunning in dramatic impact. She was entirely free in both the largest and the most intimate moments.
Julia Hamari, singing in Washington for the first time, was faithful to the score, giving each note and accent its due. Her voice is not the heavy contralto that can add weight in some passages, but her command and musicianship were excellent.
Paul Plishka was a particular joy in the great bass solos, during which he sang without referring to the score. He gave ideal tone and manner, with special breath in his phrasing, thanks to flawless breath control.
Against the tremendous impact of the performance, several small matters are of minor importance, but their finest realization in the repetitions, would cap a great evening. The "Sanctus," which was sung with virtuoso effect, ought to go throughout at the same allegro tempo with which it opens. In the "Agnus Dei," there should be no break between "peccata" and "mundi.
And surely Verdi, having marked a rest between "libera" and "me" in the sixth measure before the end, but none thereafter, does not want the words separated in their closing deliveries. Small matters against a magnificitapestry, but worth correcting.