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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Requiem in D minor, K626 (1791).
Iwona Hossa (soprano); Urszula Kryger (alto); Adam Zdunikowski (tenor); Romuald Tesarowicz (bass)
Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra/Tadeusz Wojciechowski.
rec. Łódz Cathedral, 2 April 2006.
Dolby Digital 5.1. 16:9 PAL
DUX 9555 [103‘00]

 


This event at Łódz Cathedral, Poland was clearly well attended. It looks like a capacity audience. It was actually a complete Solemn High Mass in commemoration of the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Candles abound and a bell ushers in proceedings; a solemn procession of church dignitaries enters.

Apt, then, that the dark side of the Requiem is even more in evidence in this performance. The work creeps in as what looks like crepuscular light seeps through the church windows. This is clearly a feast for the eyes, something which I fear proved too much of a temptation for the producer. Camera angles move rather too often and rather too rapidly, and the camera can pan rather too swiftly. Decorations, too, are dragged into use. A wooden image of the crucified Christ provides the backdrop to the Dies Irae, for example, and rapid cuts to stained glass Jesuses are simply off-putting. A shame there are no subtitles to illuminate the meanings of the words sung, even if the text is familiar to most Westerners.

The choir, though, is excellent. Clearly the chorus master, Marek Jaszczak, is highly musical. The soloists are generally good. Watch out for the violently red-haired soprano. It is a shame we are privy to the tenor's reactions while the bass is delivering his excellent 'Tuba mirum', for Zdunikowski is clearly nervous – as his disappointing entrance subsequently confirms.

The conductor, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, generally fails to inject energy into the music. There is a real drop in the 'Rex tremendae'. Contrasts in the 'Confutatis' are underplayed although there is some nice delicacy here. Perhaps the Sanctus comes off best, for here the choir really comes into its own. Set against this is the fact that counterpoint can become rather blurred. This is understandable in this vast, high-ceilinged acoustic, but no help to Mozart's music. A more charismatic figure at the helm would have helped. 

There is the option to watch the whole mass, in Polish, punctuated by Mozart's music. There are some lovely declaimed/sung texts with congregational responses from an uncredited young lady with a most pleasing voice. Oh, for subtitles! As it is, this full-service option only really carries meaning for Poles or Polish speakers; a bit of a waste, really. And there are far, far better Requiems available on disc, while on DVD the Solti at St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna gives a far better idea of the majesty of Mozart's conception.

Colin Clarke

 


 


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