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Franz LACHNER (1803-1890)
Requiem Op.146 (1856, revised 1865)
Marina Ulewicz (soprano)
Ruby Hughes (soprano)
Roxana Constantinescu (mezzo)
Colin Balzer (tenor)
Gerhard Werlitz (tenor)
GŁnther Papendell (bass)
Kammersolisten Augsburg/Hermann Meyer
rec. live, Kirche St. Georg, Augsburg, March 2006.†
CARUS 83.178 [59:15]


This is the first recording of Lachner’s Requiem, a work written in 1856 to celebrate the centenary of Mozart’s birth. It was first performed in Munich but there were no further revivals until 1871 by which time Lachner had slightly revised it. His own student Josef Rheinberger had also written a Requiem in 1865 and hearing it inspired Lachner to replace his own Kyrie fugue with a Communio toward the end of the work. It was in this newly revised form that Lachner conducted it in Leipzig. There’s no evidence that there has been any performance since, which makes its reclamation all the more discographically significant.

No one would claim that this is Lachner’s masterpiece. Though it owed its genesis to the Mozart centenary celebrations and though there are a few – very few – coded references to Mozart it’s essentially a mellifluous, expert, rather fugue-heavy work that tends toward the intimate rather than the grandiose. The soloists don’t have a great deal to do. The choir on the contrary is busily engaged and the small orchestra supports adeptly if without great opportunities for soloistic flourish. It’s not that sort of work.† Certainly his classicist credentials are firmly on show as is his partial indebtedness to Schubert.

He casts beneficent warmth over the Recordare and grants an intimate string introduction to the Lacrimosa. There are drum tattoos and brass punctuating moments as well as those fugues. But to balance this we have the lullaby gentleness of the Hostias and the noble grandeur of the Sanctus – possibly the most impressive single movement. The Lux Aeterna ends all with great balm.

The solo singers make for a good team. Tenor Colin Balzer is eager and flexible whilst the mezzo Roxana Constantinescu has rather an outsize, operatic voice for a work of this relative intimacy. The choir and orchestra play honestly. The acoustic is rather cloudy and even in some of the fugal passages things become opaque; there’s also a degree of choral strain in Quam olim Abrahae.

Those eager for sidelined mid-nineteenth century choral works will take pleasure in this enterprising reclamation. Others may find Lachner’s choral idiom rather bland.

Jonathan Woolf


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