This is a tremendous coupling. The very name “London Mozart
Players” will, I am sure, conjure up fond memories for many
users of this site. These performances are taken from LP sources:
HMV CLP1031 and Club National du Disque CND310. Note that both
pieces were originally issued on the plum-label CLP disc, so
one can only guess that the Club National disc comes in because
of cleaner surfaces?. The present disc gives CLP031 as the HMV
number, but then it also gets the catalogue number of the Mozart
wrong, too, giving K314.
The intense musicality of the London Mozart Players, an enduring
trait throughout their recordings, is immediately in evidence
in the performance of the Salve Regina. The solo quartet
is beautifully chosen, intoning the text as one. When the solo
lines unfurl and individuals get to shine, it is - perhaps unsurprisingly
- April Cantelo who shines, her pure voice a consistent source
of joy. Blech finds drama, too, when the score demands, and
just listen to the unaccompanied violin line around the eight
minute mark in the Salve Regina to hear real lamentoso
The choir, too, is expert - try the purity of exposed soprano
lines in the central “Eja ergo advocata nostra”. From the orchestra,
one should highlight the sweet oboe contributions.
The recording of the “choruses” - nothing more specific is given
- tends to intensify any blurring. Remember, this is before
any scaled-down “period” performances. Comparison with the two
major recordings of this work in the catalogue - Bruno Weil
and Nikolaus Harnoncourt - tends towards the useless as they
hail from different eras and therefore different musicological
The, to our ears, heavy chorus suits the Mozart better, perhaps,
as the composer plays off chorus against soli in the Kyrie/Christe.
Once again Cantelo is magnificent. As mentioned above, the sources
are LPs, and the occasional muffled click is audible (track
5). Blech finds rhythmic spring, too, to contrast with the heaviness
of his Crucifixus, and inspires his chorus to real vigour
in the Et resurrexit. There is some shrillness to the
upper ranges of the violins that can distract in louder passages,
but one forgives all when confronted with the sweetness of the
violins’ opening of the Benedictus. And just listen to
the discipline of the upwardly rising violin scales at the end
of that same movement to hear how well disciplined and rehearsed
the players were. Heavenly beauty is reserved for the opening
of the Agnus Dei. Once again it is Cantelo who hypnotises.
There are preferable modern versions, perhaps prime amongst
them Schreier (on Philips), yet Blech and his considerable forces
hold their own undeniable charms.
I like the way the back cover of the disc gives URLs to not
only the record company’s website, but also a 1999
obit of Harry Blech. There’s a link to a German Wikipedia
article on Blech that seemed not to work at the time of writing.
Also on the debit side, there are no printed booklet notes whatsoever.