Mozart: Requiem; Kyrie, K341

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Requiem; Kyrie, K341
PERFORMER: Sibylla Rubens (soprano), Annette Markert (alto), Ian Bostridge (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (baritone) La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale, Orchestre des Champs-Elysées/ Philippe Herreweghe
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901620
I must confess that when this disc arrived for review, my heart sank slightly – not another Mozart Requiem. But hardly had I started to listen when I at once realised that this was an exceptional reading and recording, made from two live concerts given last October in Montreux. Herreweghe uses the traditional Süssmayr score. What I found especially impressive was the sense not only of drama but also of pity. The tempi are live and supple in the quick movements (Kyrie fugue) and do not drag in the slow sections. Fashions and tempi change, and in our age we have speeded up the 18th century (if I may put it that way). Ten years ago, Karajan took 52:09 minutes for the Requiem: Herreweghe requires 47:36, which is in line with the average timings nowadays.

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A bonus here is a splendidly dramatic performance of Mozart’s Kyrie in D minor, K341, now thought to be the beginning of an unfinished Mass to celebrate Mozart’s installation as Kapellmeister of St Stephen’s Cathedral, a post which he did not live to occupy.

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A special word of praise for the engineers, who have created a remarkable balance between soloists (very good, incidentally), choir and orchestra. Altogether an impressive achievement. HC Robbins Landon