Mozart: Coronation Mass; Missa brevis; Church Sonata; Ave verum corpus; Exsultate, Jubilate

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart
WORKS: Coronation Mass; Missa brevis; Church Sonata; Ave verum corpus; Exsultate, Jubilate
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Frances Bourne (mezzo-soprano), Sam Furness (tenor), George Humphreys (baritone), John Challenger (organ); Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge; St John’s Sinfonia/Andrew Nethsingha
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0786

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Recorded in the apt acoustic of St John’s College Chapel, Cambridge, this collection of Mozart’s church music centres on the Coronation Mass. Though Mozart wrote it in Salzburg in 1779, it was first performed at an Imperial coronation in 1792, after his death. It’s cleverly programmed here: two ‘church’ or ‘epistle’ sonatas – also dating from his Salzburg years – are interspersed between movements, which would originally have been separated by other liturgical elements. This works well, enhancing the work’s impact, captured by Andrew Nethsingha’s wonderfully observant performance.

Violinists Margaret Faultless and Simon Jones prove lively exponents of the two sonatas, with three-part continuo providing neat support. The vocal soloists, including soprano Susan Gritton, never sound as if they’ve been bussed in from the opera house, but skilfully match the direct, intelligently shaped singing of the choir. Gritton is, however, allowed her head in the well known quasi-operatic cantata Exsultate, jubilate. It’s a worthwhile filler alongside the late motet Ave verum corpus, which has a luminous glow in this reading.

The other sizable work here is the early Missa Brevis, known as the Little Credo Mass on account of its manifold interpolations of the familiar four-note Credo theme throughout. Once again, the performance is impeccably managed, while the sound throughout is solid, given a patina of warmth by the ideal acoustic resonance.

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George Hall