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WORKS: Requiem (ed. Masato Suzuki); Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, K339; Tuba Mirum (from Requiem)
PERFORMER: Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo-soprano), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Christian Immler (baritone); Bach Collegium Japan/ Masaaki Suzuki
CATALOGUE NO: 2091 (hybrid CD/SACD)


Masaaki Suzuki’s recording of Mozart’s incomplete Requiem is based on a new edition of the score by his son, the harpsichordist and organist Masato Suzuki. Those familiar with the regularly performed Süssmayr version will notice a couple of important changes – though to spot the others they may have to follow a score carefully.

Mozart’s assistant Franz Süssmayr was given the task of completing the Requiem following the great composer’s death. But Joseph Eybler – a musician Mozart apparently admired – had already made some interventions which Suzuki generally prefers to Süssmayr’s; in other places he has corrected some of the faulty writing for which Süssmayr has long been criticised. More noticeably, he adds a fugal Amen chorus to the Lacrimosa, based on a genuine sketch discovered in Berlin in 1960. He also follows the first edition of the score (1800) in allotting the great majority of the trombone part of the Tuba mirum – all but the first phrase in fact – to the bassoon, though this version is only included as an appendix.

Such details aside, the performance is notable for its super-clean orchestral edges and refinement – taken to such an extent that the result can feel distanced, however perfectly articulated. The soloists – a perfectly matched quartet – follow this approach to the point of sounding a little bloodless, not helped by the resonant acoustic, which creates a hazy impression. The Solemn Vespers are again of a piece, neat and perfectly efficient, but a little cool nevertheless, even in Carolyn Sampson’s direct Laudate Dominum.


George Hall