Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427; Masonic Funeral Music, K477

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Virgin
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Mass in C minor, K427; Masonic Funeral Music, K477
PERFORMER: Natalie Dessay (soprano), Véronique Gens (soprano), Top Lehtipuu (tenor), Luca Pisaroni (bass); Le Concert d’Astrée/Louis Langrée
CATALOGUE NO: 359 3092
The C minor Mass which Mozart began in 1783 but left unfinished remains, together with the Requiem, one of his most significant torsos, and the temptation to ‘complete’ it has proved impossible to resist. Robert D Levin’s considered and expert attempt is certainly impressive, though it has thus far not received a recommendable recording. But there are other approaches. The distinguished conductor Louis Langrée, especially admired in Mozart, takes a less interventionist line than Levin, leaving out those sections that Mozart did not commence, but his too is a musically convincing edition.

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He is also in charge of this vivid and highly motivated performance, given with a fine period-instrument band, and to which he brings a blend of spirit and spontaneity. Much of the choral singing is tightly disciplined, though there are occasional rough edges. The soloists form a top-flight line-up, with Natalie Dessay supplying keenly accurate coloratura in the first soprano part but Véronique Gens marginally less secure and occasionally gaunt of tone in the second. The men are both excellent and the sound quality has warmth and depth. As an apt makeweight, Langrée programmes the noble Masonic Funeral Music in a dignified, sensitive account.

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Until Levin’s edition receives a more plausible account than Helmuth Rilling’s on Hänssler, Langrée’s new version leads the field in completions. Those who are happy with the work as Mozart left it should explore John Eliot Gardiner’s version on Philips. George Hall