Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Antonín Dvorák
WORKS: Mass in D; Te Deum
PERFORMER: Ewa Biegas (soprano), Marina Rodríguez-Cusí (mezzo-soprano), Javier Tomé (tenor), José Antonio López (baritone); Orfeón Pamplonés; Orquesta Sinfónica Navarra / Antoni Wit
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573558


Dvorák's small-scale Mass, written for the consecration of a wealthy friend’s chapel, was originally scored for organ, chorus and soloists. He later orchestrated it, including trombones, but even this version does not respond well to an over-inflated approach. Antoni Wit’s expansive view makes for some very patchy results. It’s possible to admire aspects of the performance, in particular the mezzo soloist. Yet there is some lumpy orchestral playing, and far too often the choir, its sopranos especially, fails to sustain a consistent sense of pitch, making for too many uncomfortable moments, notably in the ‘Gratias’ of the Gloria, the ‘Crucifixus’ of the Credo and the Benedictus. 

The Te Deum, written for the Columbus celebrations of 1892, was premiered shortly after he arrived in New York. The opening has enormous ebullience, underpinned by solid Baroque-inspired rhythmic figures, but its intoxicating razzmatazz is contrasted with ravishing pastoral interludes. This brief work – a short choral symphony in four movements – has enormous energy. Sadly, owing to a poor recorded balance or perhaps fragility, the violins are almost obliterated by the timpani and the brass in the opening. The two soloists sing attractively, but the underpowered choral singing lacks the verve this overwhelmingly positive work demands. Far more inspiring in both the Mass and Te Deum is Václav Smetácek’s vintage performance on Supraphon.

Jan Smaczny


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