I find balance very
important in Mozartís Requiem; both the balance between orchestra
and chorus and the orchestraís internal balance. For me, it
is important that the dark tone colour of Mozartís wind instrumentation
(basset horns, French horns, bassoons, trombones) comes over.
This means that in the opening, as the texture develops the
sound of the basset horns should not be swamped by the strings
and that the chorus should not be so big that the sense is lost
that the trombones are doubling the vocal parts. These issues
can make or break a performance from me, no matter how good
the individual performances. This new recording from the Leipziger
Kammerorchester and Gewandhaus Kammerchor uses chamber forces
and a quartet of young soloists so promises much.
From the opening
notes of the introit it is clear that we have a performance
which is clean and lithe; the Bassett Horn players produce finely
shaped lines and they are well balanced with the strings, it
satisfies all my requirements for the opening of the work. The
string sound is not well upholstered, which may not be to everybodyís
taste but certainly suits this interpretation of the work. Morten
Schuldt-Jensenís are swift without ever sounding rushed. His
strings do not overdo the use of vibrato, and players and singers
respond well to his shapely, streamlined reading.
A problem lighter,
swifter readings of works like the Requiem is that the essential
profundity of the piece can be lost in the process of re-interpretation.
This does not happen here, the resulting performance, though
lithe, has a sombre shapeliness to it which does justice to
The soloists make
a well balanced ensemble and match conductor, orchestra and
choir in intention. Miriam Allan has a light, silvery voice;
more Papagena than Pamina, more Blonde than Konstanze; she makes
a fine opening impression in her solo in the Introit which
is ingratiatingly shapely. Tenor and Bass soli, Marcus Ullmann
and Martin Snell, both successfully negotiate their tricky opening
solos in Tuba Mirum. Snell has an attractively flexible
bass voice which negotiates the lower regions of the solo part
with apparent ease, but he also contributes some lovely shapely
solos as well. I would like to hear his Sarastro. Ullmann has
a lithe, light tenor voice, Pedrillo rather than Belmonte, though
there is a suspicion of steeliness in the voice under pressure.
Contralto Anne Buter has a warm toned voice which combines dark
hues with flexibility of line. All four have distinctive voices
yet blend well in the ensembles; they are not bland, but they
produce fine ensemble singing, something that is important in
The choir are equally
impressive and are well balanced with the orchestra. They produce
a clean shapely sound and do not seem to be taxed by Schuldt-Jensenís
tempi. I would certainly like to hear them in other works.
The orchestra was
formed in 1971 by members of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
who wanted to play more music in a smaller ensemble. The formation
of the choir followed in 2001; the choir is made up of professional
singers and is intended to complement the orchestra. On the
showing of this disc, I hope to hear more of them.
The edition used
is the standard SŁssmayr one. I still prefer this to the more
modern editions; so much creative input is required from the
editor that I prefer an edition by Mozartís contemporary to
one of my contemporaries aping Mozartís style. I did not follow
the work with a full score, so I am unsure whether Schuldt-Jensen
has corrected some of the perceived Ďinfelicitiesí in SŁssmayrís
The filler for the
disc is a pair of offertory motets, written when Mozart was
in his late teens. They are attractive works, creditably performed.
I only wished that the group could have found something a little
My disc came in
a handsome slipcase celebrating Naxosís 18th birthday
with a complimentary disc giving a taste of Naxosís choral repertoire
with some 11 tracks ranging from Bach and Handel to Tippett
This Mozart Requiem
will appeal to you if you are looking for a small-scale, lithe
performance which respects the distinctive tone colours of Mozartís
scoring and responds to his profundity without tarrying over-much.
If your ideal performance is the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
and the Wiener Singverein, then you might not find this quite
to your taste.
see also Review
by GŲran Forsling