Mozart • Haydn
Mozart’s Mass is the largest work here, written in 1779 but acquiring its nickname from its use at various coronations more than a decade later: Salieri conducted it, for instance, as part of the coronation service in Prague of Leopold II as King of Bohemia in 1791. Its most famous moment is the Agnus Dei, a soprano solo in the composer’s most elevated lyrical style, nicely shaped here by Teresa Wakim, who matches the collective neatness of her colleagues as part of a well-balanced if slightly underpowered and impersonal quartet. The singing of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society Chorus is spirited throughout, with Harry Christophers highlighting some of the work’s most expressive moments, notably the agonised Crucifixus, with acute perception.
Wakim has her second major opportunity in the early motet Exsultate, jubilate, written in Milan in 1773 for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini – one of the cast of Mozart’s current opera seria, Lucio Silla. The best of her singing again registers as bright as a button; but while she’s good (though not flawless) in the coloratura, she proves surprisingly inexpressive in the recitative.
Haydn’s Symphony No. 85 is the third work, benefiting from some lively and characterful string playing, part of a performance that blends bonhomie with drama. The orchestra proves itself as expert in period style as it is musically spontaneous, with some particularly lovely flute solos. Throughout the disc the sound picture is finely balanced and well put together.