WORKS: Mass in D
PERFORMER: Maria Zádori (soprano), Lena Susanne Norin (alto), Hans Jörg Mammel (tenor), Klaus Mertens (bass); Rheinische Kantorei, Das Kleine Konzert/Hermann Max
CATALOGUE NO: 10 570
Capriccio’s adventurous sorties into 18th- and early 19th-century choral repertoire have done much to breathe life into long-neglected composers. Telemann, Zelenka, WF Bach and Carl Loewe have all benefited from this zeal for rediscovery. Hermann Max, one of their ablest interpreters, focuses here on two major contemporaries admired by JS Bach. Both the works were composed for Dresden, the ‘Florence of the Elbe’, with which Heinichen, in particular, had a long association following the conversion of the Saxon elector, August the Strong, to Catholicism.
Like Bach, each composer breaks the liturgical text into ‘number’ arias, but the results are stylistically very different: Hasse’s elegant D minor Mass of 1751 already looks forward to the early pre-Classical era, while the Heinichen Requiem, composed 25 years earlier, is a fascinating, almost bizarre mélange of early Baroque styles.
The soloists get the best music: in the Heinichen, two vivid duets stand out (‘Quid sum miser’, jauntily set for tenor and bass, and a flowing upper-voice Benedictus with exquisite flute obbligato); the alto ‘Lacrymosa’ is melting, while Heinichen’s laid-back ‘Dies irae’ and almost serene ‘Confutatis maledictis’, allocated to soprano, come as quite a surprise. Max’s orchestra is top-notch, but his choir at times sounds a fraction pedestrian and lacklustre. Roderic Dunnett