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Mozart: Coronation Mass etc

Katharina Konradi (soprano) et al; Bavarian Radio Choir; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Howard Arman (BR Klassik)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Coronation Mass; Vesperae solennes de Dominica; Alma Dei creatoris; Church Sonata No. 16 for organ and strings, K329
Katharina Konradi (soprano), Sophie Harmsen (mezzo-soprano), Steve Davislim (tenor), Krešimir Stražanac (bass); Bavarian Radio Choir; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Howard Arman
BR Klassik 900530   60:22 mins


Stravinsky once referred to Mozart’s sacred music as ‘rococo-operatic-sweets-of-sin’, and among the Mass settings few are as sweet as the so-called ‘Coronation Mass’ – not originally written for a coronation, but so popular it was quickly adopted as the Hapsburg go-to for such solemnities. Composed for Salzburg Easter celebrations in 1779, it’s paired in this live recording with a Vespers sequence dating from the same year; and conductor Howard Arman trisects K317, flanking the central Credo with a suavely perky ‘Epistle’ Sonata (K329) and an initially somewhat slight offertory Alma Dei creatoris.

Arman is an attentive Mozartian. He’s particularly alert to the felicities of Mozart’s instrumental writing, both colouristically, and in its role as agent of thematic integration. Throughout, the support from the Berlin Akademie is invigorating – a perfect match for the fastidious precision of the Bavarian Radio Choir.

Not one to let things sag, Arman spearheads an ideally muscular jog through the Vespers’ ‘Dixit Dominus’. In the Mass, the Credo is bedecked in all the majesty of the church triumphant (though how tenderly Mozart scales things back for the ‘Et Incarnatus’ and darkly-hued ‘Crucifixus’); and he keeps things moving even in the Benedictus which breezes along with sunny serenity. Perhaps the breathless final iteration of the Agnus Dei sounds a touch trite, but that’s a hazard that ambushes many a performance. Headed up by the poised and radiant soprano Katharina Konradi, the solo vocal quartet adds further lustre to a coronation-driven release crowned by illuminating insights and expressive acuity.


Paul Riley