8 amazing performances of Mozart's Requiem

It's one of the most talked-about pieces of classical music in history thanks to its fascinating composition (just how much did Mozart compose himself? Was it really like the scene in Amadeus?), but which version is the best? Here are eight of the greatest.

1. Zubin Mehta

This is a very special performance from 1994 - performed by an all-star line-up (including José Carreras, no less) in Sarajevo to raise money for charity after the siege of the city, it's a charged atmosphere to say the least. And that's no expensive set design - they're performing in the ruins of the city's Great Counsel Hall.

2. Claudio Abbado

Another emotional occasion, Claudio Abbado conducted the Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Herbert von Karajan's death. A fitting tribute to one genius via the medium of another.


3. Herbert von Karajan

Speaking of that genius, here's Karajan's version, every inch the blockbusting emotional experience from beginning to end. It's no surprise that his eyes remain closed for much of this performance - here's a man completely committed to the piece.

4. Karl Böhm

There's a miraculous clarity on this recording from 1971, and Karl Böhm's direction is first-rate. Much is made of how quickly or slowly certain conductors take the Requiem, but Böhm's is perhaps one of the most even-handed.


5. John Eliot Gardiner

The big JEG is known for his definitive Bach recordings, but this performance shows that he's pretty handy with a Mozart Requiem too. 


6. Neville Marriner

Marriner proves here that he's not afraid to move things along (check out that 46-minute running time - perhaps he was double-parked), especially in the opening Introitus. But it's far from off-handedly brisk and he's careful to make every bar count, despite the speed.


7. Sergiu Celibidache

From the speed of Marriner to the luxurious crawl of Celibidache - it's a little slow for some tastes, but no-one quite ekes out the anguish of the Requiem like this. Watch out for an especially heart-wrenching Lacrimosa… 


8. Georg Solti

It doesn't get more apt than this - Sir Georg Solti gives the Requiem another stellar performance, but this time in Vienna on the bicentenary of Mozart's death back in 1991. The Vienna Phil are on top form too, and there's some cracking solo work from the great Cecilia Bartoli.