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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Mozart - Exultate Jubilate!

Regina coeli, K108 (1771) [14.52]
Laudate Dominum, from Vesperae solennes de Confessore, K339 (1780) [04.18]
Sub tuum praesidium, K198 [05.19]
Sancta Maria, mater Dei, K273 (1777) [03.45]
Exultate, jubilate K165 (1777) [13.45]
Agnus Dei from, Coronation Mass, K317 (1779) [03.35]
Laudate Dominum, from Vesperae solennes de Domenica, K321 (1779) [04.24]
Regina coeli, K127 (1772) [14.53]
Carolyn Sampson (soprano)
Choir of The King’s Consort
The King’s Consort/Robert King
rec. Cadogan Hall, London, 29-31 October 2005. DDD
HYPERION CDA67560 [65.39]

Another birthday offering for Mozart’s 250th anniversary is celebrated by Hyperion and showcases the soprano Carolyn Sampson.

All the sacred repertoire dates from the composer’s time in Salzburg. However, the origins and authenticity of the Sub tuum praesidium has been a matter of conjecture by Mozart scholars.

The two considerable Regina coeli settings - for soprano, chorus and large orchestra - written whilst Mozart was still only in his mid-teens, are high quality scores but infrequently heard and even less often recorded. This is impressive music, with triumphant outer movements and heartfelt, more introspective inner sections in which Mozart is at his most ardent.

The substantial Exultate, jubilate has, of course, been performed and recorded widely, but usually in the ‘Milan’ version. Here Hyperion have recorded the rarely heard ‘Salzburg’ version which has different words and different orchestration: delicate flutes instead of oboes giving a very different colour. It ends with the famous, virtuosic ‘alleluia’.

The disc includes a series of shorter works, including three great movements for solo soprano taken from larger sacred works: the famous Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de Confessore - which could be by Verdi, with its amazing soft choral entry part way through - the ravishing Agnus Dei from the ‘Coronation Mass and the less frequently heard Laudate Dominum from the Vesperae solennes de Domenica, with a joyful organ solo duetting with the voice. Finally, the glorious and rarely heard duet, Sub tuum praesidium, where thanks to studio technology the soprano soloist performs both parts.

Carolyn Sampson has established an impressive reputation and is regarded as one of the leading British sopranos of her generation. She has appeared on a large number of recordings, namely: Kuhnau, Knüpfer, Vivaldi, Zelenka, Monteverdi and Lalande for Hyperion, Bach for Harmonia Mundi, Orfeo for Virgin Classics, Amor in Gluck’s Elena e Paride for DG Archiv, Bach Cantatas for BIS, Buxtehude for Linn Records and lute songs for Deux-Elles.

There has been considerable critical interest in this release and I did enjoy Sampson’s performances but perhaps less so than several of the glowing reviews that I have read.

She has a pleasant voice which I found to have considerable weight and an impressively detailed focus in these sacred scores. Her mid to lower register has an appealing creaminess which diminishes slightly in smoothness as her voice is extended. Sampson does rather swoop up to grab the high notes, a tendency that fortunately did not detract too much from my enjoyment. Her vibrato is only slight and never proves distracting. Surely, she did not authorise the unflattering picture on the front cover.

The Choir of The King’s Consort and The King’s Consort under Robert King provide sterling performances and prove themselves to be ensembles at the top of their form. The Hyperion engineers have provided excellent sound quality, the essay by Robert King is decent enough and full Latin texts with English translations are included.

A well performed and enjoyable release of Mozart sacred music.

Michael Cookson



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