The music collected
on this CD includes quite a bit of fairly
early Mozart; I do wonder if all of
it is equally worthy of our attention.
There are two settings
of the Regina Coeli, both of
which feature prominent soprano solo
parts. The setting in B major is the
later of the two and annotator Alena
Borková comments on its "compositionally
more mature structure [which] opens
new horizons for the virtuoso solo soprano."
That may be true but actually I find
the earlier setting in C major more
interesting. It’s also more fully scored,
containing parts for horns, trumpets
and timpani. These enliven the textures
in the festive first and fourth movements
of the C major Regina Coeli. In
these movements the music does indeed
have, in Borková’s words "youthful
eagerness" and that quality comes
across in this spirited performance.
In the two inner movements soprano Simona
Houda Šaturová has the limelight
and she sings very well indeed.
She also contributes
significantly to the B major setting.
Hers is a relatively light voice and
it seems to be very well suited to Mozart.
She has a gleaming top and also produces
a nice, round sound in the lower register
of her voice. Throughout the disc her
tone is pure and clear and her singing
gave me a good deal of pleasure. I’ve
not heard her before but I was very
The disc contains two
well-known showpieces for the soprano
voice, the lovely Laudate Dominum
and the solo motet Exultate, Jubilate,
which, apart from the absence of
a solo trumpet, has much in common in
terms of spirit and design with Bach’s
celebrated cantata BWV 51. Miss Šaturová
is heard to good advantage in both these
Mozart works. In Laudate Dominum
she sustains a beautiful line and
sings with an enticing tone. Exsultate,
Jubilate is even more of a test.
As Alena Borková observes this
piece overshadows all the rest of the
music that Mozart composed in these
Italian years and I love the description
that the music is "covered with
the pollen of Italian melodiousness."
Miss Šaturová’s singing in the
first section of the motet is light
and joyful. Once again she maintains
an excellent line and she also negotiates
the vocal pyrotechnics very adroitly.
She’s poised in the andante aria
‘Tu virginum corona’ and rises splendidly
to the virtuoso challenges of the concluding
‘Alleluia.’ Hers is a most winning account
of this piece.
The rest of the programme
contains one gem and one dud. The justly
popular Ave verum corpus is given
a smooth, quietly devoted performance
and thankfully conductor Petr Fiala
keeps the music moving forward and thus
avoids the risk of sentimentality. The
Te Deum was written when Mozart
was thirteen and, quite frankly, sounds
like it. To be blunt I really wonder
if this music would be played today
if the name Mozart were not on the title
page. It’s pretty routine fare and it
didn’t engage my interest at all, despite
the spirited performance.
In this Te Deum
and throughout the programme the thirty-strong
choir sings very well. They produce
a nicely blended sound and articulate
the music nicely. They are well supported
by the orchestra, whose members sound
to be playing on period instruments
– certainly there’s no vibrato from
the strings – though this isn’t made
clear in the booklet. Petr Fiala conducts
the programme stylishly. The performances
are presented in very good, clear sound
and the booklet, which is in Czech and
English, includes the texts and translations
into both languages.
I find the quality
of the music on this CD is somewhat
variable. I doubt if I shall ever listen
to the Te Deum again and the
two settings of Regina Coeli are
of limited interest. The other pieces,
however, are in a much superior class.
But if the musical quality is inconsistent
the same cannot be said of the performances,
which are uniformly excellent. If the
programme appeals then the disc is thoroughly