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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Exultate, jubilate KV 165 (1773) [13:27]
Regina coeli KV108 (1771) [13:31]
Ergo interest KV 143 (1772) [5:36]
Regina coeli KV 127 (1772) [5:15]
Emma Kirkby (soprano)
Westminster Cathedral Boys Choir, Chorus of The Academy of Music (KV 108 and 127), The Orchestra of The Academy of Ancient Music/Christopher Hogwood.
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, November 1988, April 1989. DDD
ABC ELOQUENCE 476 7460 [47.12]

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Another re-release from Eloquence. The only criticism here is the meagre playing time but I suppose that for £3.75, we cannot complain too loudly. This disc appears to be a straight re-issue of L’Oiseau Lyre 411 833-2, and it is very good indeed.

The repertoire is all early Mozart, written in the early 1770s for soprano voice accompanied by choir (in two items) and orchestra. The orchestra is the well known Academy of Ancient Music, one of the UK’s better period bands. They have been coached to play in a very acceptable manner, i.e. not too many squeaks and pops. The choirs, particularly the boys of Westminster Cathedral, sound a little out of context in their two pieces but do not spoil the works at all.

The best known piece on the disc is Exultate jubilate KV 165, first performed in Salzburg. The text of the first aria and subsequent recitative are adapted for a specific liturgical occasion, the feast of the Holy Trinity. Flutes are substituted for oboes in this version.

Emma Kirkby has the ability to make this repertoire seem effortless, and she is ably supported by Hogwood and the Academy. In addition, the L’Oiseau Lyre recording has been superbly transferred.

There are two different settings of Regina coeli, each employing choral forces to supplement the orchestra. The first is a full-dress, ceremonial piece in the regal key of C major. The first of four movements uses the full forces of Mozart’s day – pairs of horns, oboes and trumpets and timpani, as well as strings and organ continuo. Notable towards the end of this first movement are the rauschenden Violinen (rushing violins), well known to the ecclesiastical composers of the 18th century.

The second movement is a haunting tempo moderato and the vocal contribution is assigned to the soprano, which Emma Kirkby sings exquisitely. The finale, Allelujah is like a miniature symphony finale with added vocal and choral lines. By the time we reach the end we are left in no two minds about the overall atmosphere – Allelujah!

The second setting (KV 127), is less celebratory than the first, but both longer and more elaborate. There are moments of great beauty, before the piece comes to a rousing conclusion for soloist, choir and orchestra.

Finally, we have Ergo interest, which is fairly short, and is in the form of a recitative and aria. This is an example of the similarity of Mozart’s writing for both operatic and church music.

This is a superb issue, and deserves wide circulation I can recommend it highly.

John Phillips


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