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Mozart: Mass in C minor

Christina Landshamer, Anke Vondung, Steve Davislim, Tobias Berndt; Bavarian Radio Chorus; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Howard Arman (BR Klassik)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Mass in C minor
Christina Landshamer (soprano), Anke Vondung (mezzo), Steve Davislim (tenor), Tobias Berndt (baritone); Bavarian Radio Chorus; Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Howard Arman
BR Klassik 900917   123:63 mins (2 discs)

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Few works Mozart composed with his wife Constanze in mind were completed. The reasons are complex. In this case we have a Mass heavily influenced by the old fashioned procedures of Bach and Handel, and so long that the type itself had just been prohibited by the Emperor. The Kyrie and Gloria survive almost intact, but large sections of the Credo are missing as is the entire Agnus Dei. The Sanctus, Benedictus, and Osanna movements only survive in arrangements and copies.

This recording uses a new reconstruction by Clemens Kemme, which does not provide music for the completely missing movements, but fleshes out the instrumentation in the others and expands and redistributes the part writing in the double fugue in the Osanna and elsewhere. It would be an alert listener who spotted the intricate differences between this version and the established and admired reconstruction by Richard Maunder already used by many recordings. The Osanna here certainly sounds more fulsome and hectic but this is partly due to the relentless pace of the choir, which lacks the clarity and shaping found, for example, on Masaaki Suzuki’s 2016 recording. The soloists are pleasing, especially Christina Landshamer in ‘Laudamus te’, but I missed the ethereal panache and technical security of a singer such as Sylvia McNair (on John Eliot Gardiner’s 1988 recording). The second disc is a spoken docu-drama in German of events surrounding the composition and reception of the Mass. No translations are provided.

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Anthony Pryer