The best versions of Mozart's Requiem I have heard (and have gone through many) are John Eliot Gardiner's on Philips and Christopher Hogwood's on L'Oisaeu Lyre.
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Yes new CD recordings will sound better than most mid 1980's Telarc versions. Back then Telarc had a lush sound in general but detail is somewhat opaque compared to newer Telarc recordings.
My current favorite CD version would be Herreweghe/Harmonia Mundi, 1997 recording that has excellent sound and performance.
Agree with Kr4 on the Linn for SACD; I was not that impressed with the Channel Classics release with the Netherlands Bach Ensemble on SACD. The best performance in my book and a pretty good recording is the Peter Schreier (can't remember the chorus, it was a German chorus) performance on Philips, probably a recording from the 80s or early 90s--great soloists and singing. Check the archives for the Mozart Requiem, you'll find a number of recommendations as well as the details on the Schreier, as it made a lot of people's lists.
I'll second the Peter Schreier on Philips more for performance quality, which I care about more than sound quality (I sing in a professional chorus). It does sound very good as well.
Note that the Hogwood is not the traditional Mozart Requiem which was "unfinished" at Mozart's death; and was complete by one of his students using Mozart's outline and notes.
The Hogwood is a version completed by some Mozart scholar more recently. Unless you like to experiment, you'll probably be disapointed with it. Other than the first half of the movements which Mozart completely finished, it is totally different.
FYI, Schreier is/was a professional tenor (and a good one), before becoming a conductor. It shows in that he cares about the singing first. Many conductors focus on the orchestra and leave the singers and chorus to fend for themselves.
The Gardiner uses "historic" instruments and techniques I believe, and a smaller chorus, so you'll have to decide whether you want that kind of sound as well.
The Schreier has a more typical, more modern instrument presentation like the Shaw, with a large chorus and excellent soloists..
I own the Philips / Gardiner requiem and I like the performance, but I would not recommend the sound quality, which is adequate but not spectacular. I think it's an early (1990) DDD recording. You could try it, but I doubt it would be much better than your Telarc.
My experience is that a recent (since 1995) CD remaster of an older analogue recording is usually better than an early (1995 or earlier) full digital (DDD) recording. Also I'm not a big fan of Philips releases ... they don't have the sparkle of a good Decca recording for me.
I'm inclined to wait until I have a high-res. player (SACD or DVDA) before purchasing a replacement to the Gardiner.
FYI, Peter Schreier was/is a professional tenor (and a good one), long before becoming a conductor. It shows in that he cares more about the quality of the singing, which I feel matters in a piece like this. Many conductors focus on the orchestra, and leave the singers and chorus to basically fend for themselves. I've experienced this first hand... This also explains Robert Shaw's success (ie, singers come first).
Gardiner is also very good. It comes down to what style you like... I've also always liked how Colin Davis handles choruses and singers.
La Chapelle de Québec
Les Violons du Roy/Bernard Labadie conducting on the
Dorian label is masterfully engineered and the performance is beautiful. This is the version completed by Robert Levin, not Sussmayr.
They take a historical approach which is very successful and the whole thing takes on a very integrated chamber music feel.