I never had the good fortune to see him in a live performance. Also, I have never been a fan of the English composers he did much to champion. However, we have lost one of the outstanding conductors of the past half century.
Here is his recording of the Berlioz Requiem. Something goes wrong with this in the Tuba Mirum – possibly a fault of the sound engineers when all four military bands come in to join an already vast orchestra and choir. Even so, it is the grandest and most moving performance of the work I have heard. No other performance I know comes close to it. I first heard it in in 1976 – indeed, I was carrying a recording of it when I was nearly killed in a road accident. It astonished me then. It still does. The hairs still prick up on the back of my neck when it reaches Te decet hymnus Deus in Sion at 4:15. Nor is it dismissive of the rest if I describe the Offertorium as astonishingly beautiful.
RIP, Colin Davis – our greatest loss of the year so far.