Dvorak, Mozart: Mozart: Mass in C minor; Dvorák: Symphony No. 7 in D minor

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak,Mozart
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: Mozart: Mass in C minor; Dvorák: Symphony No. 7 in D minor
PERFORMER: Miah Persson (soprano), Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano), Helge Rønning (tenor), Peter Mattei (bass); Monteverdi Choir; Eric Ericson Chamber Choir; Royal Stockholm PO/John Eliot Gardiner
CATALOGUE NO: 205 7438 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)

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Choosing repertoire to celebrate the 2008 Nobel laureates must be a daunting task. Nevertheless, Dvoπák’s most serious symphony, expressly intended to stir the world, and Mozart’s heaven-storming C minor Mass certainly pass muster, even in this exalted context.

Although Mozart left the work incomplete, it is one of the most remarkable documents of his maturity, on the one hand looking back to Bach and Handel, on the other forward: had he completed the Mass, it would have been on a similar scale to Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and in many ways as audacious.

The excitability of Eliot Gardiner’s approach to the Dvoπák is evident in a marvellously gripping opening to the Symphony and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic responds with verve. The slow movement is particularly winning, with a superb rendition of the famous horn melody. Mozart’s great Mass brings together the Monteverdi Choir and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir.

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There is an occasional lack of focus, but in general the two choirs are well matched and produce a thrillingly hard-edged sound in the contrapuntal set pieces. With excellent soloists this performance resonates with the inspiration appropriate to this most special of occasions. The accompanying extras include some rather formulaic interviews with the Nobel laureates and a much more spontaneous one with John Eliot Gardiner, but the performances are both in their way well worth treasuring. Jan Smaczny