Originally released in 1986, this set was one of our classical best sellers for well over a decade, and was reissued in improved sound in 2003 due to popular demand. Harvey Sachs writes in his liner notes "Performances of the Verdi Requiem often emphasize the work’s dramatic aspects to the detriment of its lyricism, or vice-versa. Here, Toscanini balances these elements completely convincingly...we are unlikely to hear a more overwhelming performance of the work than this one?ever."
Kurt Moses wrote in American Record Guide of the first edition: "...it’s the greatest Verdi Requiem I’ve ever heard, bar none." William H. Youngren wrote in The Christian Science Monitor "...Toscanini [gives us] matchless pacing and shaping of the music...[with] the superb playing of the NBC Symphony..." Terry Teachout had this to say in Musical America "...stupendous in virtually every way...Harvey Sachs’ liner notes are outstanding." And Thomas Hathaway raved in High Fidelity "...[Toscanini’s] 1940 concert of the Requiem was at once relaxed and powerful, and it remains one of the greatest on record."
The second edition (now deleted) evoked equally enthusiastic responses:
"...the strength of this wonderful account of the Requiem is not so much its power – great though that evidently was – but its tenderness, warmth and flexibility (a quality not always associated with the maestro), and the exceptional, and well-recorded, soloists: Zinka Milanov (outstanding, that one slip apart), the splendid Bruna Castagna, Jussi Björling in glorious voice, and Nicola Moscona."
-Cairns, The Sunday Times (UK)
"Verdi’s Requiem Mass, a stunning performance (much better – and broader – than Toscanini’s official RCA recording) crowned, voice-wise, by the trumpeting tenor of Jussi Björling. Although old and "mono", it sounds better than ever on a brand new Music & Arts transfer. . . .Toscanini conducted the Requiem on both the first and the 50th anniversaries of Verdi’s death, and his command of the score – its outward drama and inward poetry – is still unrivalled."
-Rob Cowan, The Independent (UK)