Mozart: Mass No. 18 ‘Great’; Missa brevis ‘Spaur’
Katharina Konradi (soprano), Sarah Romberger (mezzo-soprano), Martin Mitterrutzner (tenor), Mikhail Timoshenko (bass); WDR Cologne Radio Choir; Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Christoph Poppen (Naxos)
Masses, Vol. 2: Mass No. 18 ‘Great’; Missa brevis ‘Spaur’
Katharina Konradi (soprano), Sarah Romberger (mezzo-soprano), Martin Mitterrutzner (tenor), Mikhail Timoshenko (bass); WDR Cologne Radio Choir; Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Christoph Poppen
Naxos 8.574417 69:28 mins
Volume two of this series of Mozart masses by Christoph Poppen his Cologne musicians continues the pairing of better- and lesser-known masses – here, the vast and spectacular ‘Great’ No. 18 in C minor with the diminutive Missa brevis in C major. The approach to both is thoroughly refined and contained, although there is power to be had in the spectacular and unfinished ‘Great’, performed here in its 1989 completion by musicologist Franz Beyer.
Poppen pushes matters on in his orchestra, the forces lithe and expansive where needed, moulding themselves to the diverse musical vocabulary, with its Baroque hints, whether in the lights and darks of the great cloud of the Gloria or in capturing the thrill of the fugal build-up in the ‘Cum Sanctu Spiritu’. Occasionally, the chorus could do with a little more heft, but they have a lovely sound, and it is perhaps the acoustic here that fudges the edges.
Of the fine soloists, soprano Katharina Konradi soars beautifully, and a little carefully, above the chorus and orchestra in the Kyrie. Perhaps the two soprano soloists’ voices, both wonderful in themselves, do not quite tonally sit as well together as they might in Mozart’s closer-ranged duos, with Sarah Romberger’s rich mezzo jarring slightly with Konradi’s cut-glass soprano.
To conclude, the brief joy of the Missa brevis, written some seven years prior to the ‘Great’, and by contrast a concise work, its neat movements reflected in the singing, all forces joyously sculpted by Poppen.
Sarah Urwin Jones