Mass No. 16 ‘Coronation’; Missa Longa, K262
Carolina Ullrich (soprano), Marie Henriette Reinhold (mezzo-soprano), Angelo Pollak (tenor), Konstantin Krimmel (bass); West German Radio Chorus Cologne; Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Christoph Poppen
Naxos 8.574270 55:36 mins
Lucky the Viennese who, week in and week out, can take their pick of several ecclesiastical establishments celebrating Sunday Mass with choir, orchestra and solo quartet. For those less blessed, Christoph Poppen is embarking on a project to record all Mozart’s Mass settings. This first volume pairs one of the most recorded – the Coronation, K317 – with one of the least: the Missa Longa, K262. Both are in C major, for Mozart always a bright and forthright key, and although the nickname Coronation might hint at something supremely grand (it wasn’t written for a coronation though subsequently used for one), the earlier Mass is in places at least as imposing, and boasts a Credo section almost twice as long as it sibling in K317.
Under Poppen, K262’s Kyrie bowls along at quite a lick, its counterpoint muscular and surprisingly bouncy given the character of the text. But the counterpoint is useful in cutting through the congested recorded sound of the tuttis; similarly in the Credo, the fugal conclusion spikes other passages somewhat homogenous and lacking in definition – though the lurch into the minor for the Crucifixus is boldly handled and Poppen secures some incisive string interjections as the Gloria unfolds an unexpectedly dramatic central section.
The opening Kyrie of the Coronation Mass sounds slightly effortful, but there’s plenty of thrusting purposefulness to the Credo; and if the Benedictus feels a touch hurried, soprano Carolina Ullrich is given space to float the ‘Figaro-anticipating’ Agnus Dei with serene eloquence.