Mozart Requiem in D minor, KV 626

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ALBUM TITLE: Mozart Requiem in D minor, KV 626
WORKS: Requiem in D minor, KV 626
PERFORMER: Christina Landshamer (soprano), Ingeborg Danz (alto), Robert Getchell (tenor), Matthew Brooke (bass-baritone); Orchestre des Champs-Elysées; Collegium Vocale Gent and Accademia Chigiana Siena.Philippe Herreweghe (Warsaw, 2010)


It is said Chopin wanted Mozart’s Requiem, which he can only have known in Süssmayr’s completion, performed at his funeral. Whatever the truth of that tale Chopin wanted, in any case, only ‘good music’. Here, more than 160 years after his death, we have a complete Latin Mass with the addition of the Requiem, performed in the beautiful restored church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw, Poland, where Chopin’s heart is entombed. It may have been a moving experience for the large congregation, but it certainly isn’t for the home listener, unless possibly he or she is a devout Catholic.

The priest sings the Mass in an agonisingly off-pitch way, his voice often hoarse, cracking and with a notable degree of detachment. You hardly expect fervour, but seeing him up close is a discouraging experience; and the choir’s responses are just as listless, if less tuneless – but this is in no way ‘good music’. Anyway, Mozart’s Requiem, with the lengthy Dies Irae, and the emotional intensity of its opening and of some subsequent sections, simply fails to integrate with the service.

Philippe Herreweghe conducts his usual forces, and four decent but by no means exceptional soloists, with minimal impact. There is long and loud applause at the end, both unearned and inappropriate; strident non-believer as I am, I was embarrassed. The badly translated notes are sentimental and complete the depressingness of this release.


Michael Tanner