Hummel: Mass in E flat, Op. 80; Te Deum in D; Quod in orbe, Op. 88

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LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Mass in E flat, Op. 80; Te Deum in D; Quod in orbe, Op. 88
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone); Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox
In 1804 Hummel carried on where Haydn left off with this, the first of five Masses to celebrate the name day of Princess Marie Esterházy. With minimal experience of church music, he drew freely on the master’s advice. But though the style and structure owe much to Haydn, Hummel was no mere imitator. Where Haydn liked to shout his faith from the rooftops, Hummel’s Credo begins as a lilting pastoral dance. Equally un-Haydnesque is the ‘Et incarnatus est’, a sorrowful, bel canto duet for tenor and bass. The ominous timpani rolls in the Sanctus and the martial fanfares of the ‘Dona nobis pacem’ remind us that, like Haydn’s Masses, this was a mass in time of war. But many of the most characteristic moments are lyrical: the gentle Kyrie – more akin to the Kyrie of Beethoven’s Mass in C than any of Haydn’s settings – or the tender, supplicatory ‘Qui tollis’. As with the previous disc in this series, Richard Hickox and his expert forces bring their usual mix of freshness, rhythmic élan and sensitivity to this attractive, often impressive work. Choir and orchestra respond eagerly to the conductor’s enthusiastic direction. And the soloists, led by the ever-eloquent Susan Gritton, interact and blend with true chamber musical finesse. The additional items – a Te Deum whose celebratory bustle is enlivened by some colourful harmonic coups, and a subdued graduale – are both worth hearing, though neither approaches the mass in originality. Richard Wigmore