Mozart: Requiem (completed by Neukomm)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: SCO/Mackerras Linn
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart: Requiem
WORKS: Requiem (completed by Neukomm)
PERFORMER: Hjordi Thébault (soprano), Gemma Coma Alabert (mezzo-soprano), Simon Edwards (tenor), Alain Buet (bass-baritone); Kantorei Saarlouis; La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy/Jean-Claude Malgoire
CATALOGUE NO: K617 180
A forgotten figure today, Sigismund Neukomm (1778-1858) enjoyed an international career during the first half of the 19th century. Born in Salzburg, he studied with Michael Haydn and became assistant to his brother Joseph in his final Viennese years. Much of his career was spent in Paris, but he also spent five years in Brazil, where he ‘completed’ Mozart’s Requiem by adding to the existing score as finished by Süssmayr a final Libera me.

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The result, as heard here, is hardly either ‘astonishing’ or the ‘crowning glory to this immortal masterpiece’ claimed on the packaging, but a competent, at times imaginative but rarely distinguished additional item which, when not actually recycling Mozart’s music maintains a sense of harmonic continuity while extending the range of instrumental figurations in some distinctive directions. It’s a curiosity rather than a major discovery.

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It might be more recommendable were the performance top-notch, but while the soloists are adequate the choir is careless, with weak sopranos, and the edgy, over-resonant acoustic blunts its overall impact. Arguably the best edition of the Requiem available is Robert D Levin’s, well served by Sir Charles Mackerras on his Scottish Chamber Orchestra recording. George Hall