LABELS: LSO Live
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
PERFORMER: Marie Arnet (soprano), Anna Stéphany (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Darren Jeffery (bass); London Symphony Chorus & SO/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: SACD LSO 0627 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Colin Davis’s approach to Mozart’s Requiem hasn’t altered much in decades, and it’s a mark of his traditionalism that he sticks to the completion by Mozart’s assistant Süssmayr rather than opting for one of the more recent alternatives. Whatever its faults, Süssmayr’s version has the advantage of being prepared shortly after Mozart’s death by someone closely associated with him, and has certainly demonstrated staying power. Recorded live at concerts held at London’s Barbican in October 2007, this performance benefits from marvellous sound and shows Davis secure in his tempo choices and bringing that combination of solemnity, grandeur and drama to a work he particularly cares for. The orchestral playing is finely balanced and blended, the phrases nicely shaped. The four soloists are perfectly acceptable, though tenor Andrew Kennedy, whilst the most expressive of the quartet, is a little tight in vocal production. Soprano Marie Arnet’s pristine tone and flawless intonation make her near ideal.The main weakness is the choral singing. At its best the London Symphony Chorus is confident, full and varied in tone, moving skilfully around the notes in the fugues; but there are lapses in pitch and tonal quality that might have been avoided with a smaller professional choir. Of modern-instrument versions, that conducted by tenor Peter Schreier in Dresden is consistently good. For a period-instrument alternative, try Harnoncourt with Concentus Musicus Wien.