Mass in C minor, K247 ‘Great’
Ana Maria Labin (soprano), Ambroisine Bré (mezzo-soprano), Stanislas de Barbeyrac (tenor), Norman Patzke (baritone); Les Musiciens de Louvre/Marc Minkowski
Pentatone PTC 5186 812 48:28 mins
Some mystery surrounds this potentially grandest sacred score of Mozart’s output. Apparently composed in fulfilment of a vow, it was certainly performed incomplete in Salzburg in 1783, to which Mozart had returned to introduce his young wife, Constanze, to his disapproving father Leopold – indeed she sang one of the florid solo soprano parts. But only the first two sections of the Credo survive in sketch score and there is no evidence that Mozart ever got as far as setting the Agnus Dei. What remains is magnificent: the contrapuntal choruses enriched by his new-found enthusiasm for Bach and Handel and the solo arias among the purest gems of his rococo manner.
This new recording uses the edition by Helmut Eder, which discreetly fills in the missing orchestration but makes no attempt to complete the Mass from other Mozart sources. Marc Minkowski deploys a period orchestra of 38 players, including three sonorous trombones, and a small chorus of just nine voices but supplemented by a well-balanced solo group of five, among whom Ana Maria Labin is especially limpid in the ‘Et incarnatus est’. Minkowski is a little ponderous in the opening Kyrie for Mozart’s marking of Andante moderato, but in general this is a fine, expressive account, cleanly recorded.