The Dunedin Consort presents the premiere recording of Mozart scholar David Black’s new 2013 edition of Süssmayr's completion of Mozart’s Requiem. In keeping with several other Dunedin projects, this provides the opportunity to re-imagine what this work may have sounded like at its very first performance. To this end, the recording will be the first not only to use this new edition, but also to present the work using forces close in style and scale to those at the first performances.
Frieder Bernius and his Stuttgart forces weigh in with one of the finer Mozart Requiems in a very crowded field–and to ensure this performance’s relative exclusivity, it’s one of only a handful of recordings that use the edition by Franz Beyer, an intelligent and persuasive 1971 effort to correct “obvious textural errors” and some decidedly un-Mozartian features in the orchestration attributable to Franz Süssmayr, Mozart’s pupil/assistant who completed the work after the master’s death. This live concert performance from 1999 offers well-set tempos (including a vigorous Kyrie fugue), infectious rhythmic energy from both chorus and orchestra, robust, precise, musically compelling choral singing, a first rate quartet of soloists–and, especially considering its concert-performance setting, impressively detailed and vibrant sonics. The CD also features informative notes by Beyer himself.
Between 1961 and 1986, Herbert von Karajan made three recordings of the Mozart Requiem for Deutsche Grammophon, with little change in his conception of the piece over the years. This recording, from 1975, is, on balance, the best of them. The approach is Romantic, broad, and sustained, marked by a thoroughly homogenized blend of chorus and orchestra, a remarkable richness of tone, striking power, and an almost marmoreal polish. Karajan viewed the Requiem as idealized church music rather than a confessional statement awash in operatic expressiveness. In this account, the orchestra is paramount, followed in importance by the chorus, then the soloists. Not surprisingly, the singing of the solo quartet sounds somewhat reined-in, especially considering these singers' pedigrees. By contrast, the Vienna Singverein, always Karajan's favorite chorus, sings with a huge dynamic range and great intensity, though with an emotional detachment nonetheless. Perfection, if not passion or poignancy, is the watchword. The Berlin orchestra plays majestically, and the sound is pleasingly vivid.
The Mozart Requiem is one of the best-known sacred works in the classical repertoire. It was the composer's last work, and he left it unfinished at his death. British conductor Roger Norrington, a pioneer of authentic performing practice, and an outstanding group of singers present Duncan Druce's version of the Requiem, based on the latest Mozart research, together with other moving choral works.
Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2014 Choral category winner! Purely on grounds of performance alone, this is one of the finest Mozart Requiems of recent years. John Butt brings to Mozart the microscopic care and musicological acumen that have made his Bach and Handel recordings so thought-provoking and satisfying.