Wolfgang AMADEUS MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Ave verum corpus, K618 [3.27]
Requiem in D minor, K626 [53.75]
Agnes Giebel (soprano); Marga Höffgen (mezzo); Hans-Ulrich Mielsch (tenor); Boris Carmeli (bass); Choeurs de l’ORTF; Orchestre National de la RTF/Josef Krips
rec. 2 December 1965. ADD
CASCAVELLE VEL 3156 [57.12]

When I first put this disc on it turned out that I was completely wrong when it came to estimating the age of the recording. There is something about Krips’ magisterial tempi and the recorded sound itself that is redolent of the 1950s rather than 1965. The recording comes from a concert that Krips gave in 1965 with the Orchestre National de l’ORTF and its choir. The sound is perfectly decent but has a slightly dated quality.

Krips seems to be using quite a large orchestra and chorus - though no details are given - but balance is usually quite admirable. The basset-horns at the opening colour the textures of the music in just the way they should. In the louder passages, though Krips lets rip, we retain something of the feeling of the trombones supporting the choir rather than blasting through it.

Tempi are generally broad; not terminally slow, but still far slower than nowadays. There is an expansiveness to the performance, as if Krips had all the time in the world to let the music sing. Broadness does not preclude fire and moments like the Dies Irae are vividly impressive even if a trifle stately. The Rex Tremendae has superb grandeur.

The soloists are a well matched group, all sing full-throated with reasonable vibrato. Soprano Agnes Giebel has some charming moments but I felt she was inclined to stray below the note in her upper register. Contralto Marga Höffgen has a good rich, solid contralto voice, which sits nicely at the core of the ensemble. Tenor Hans-Ulrich Mielsch negotiates his opening Mors stupebit with aplomb and displays a nice lyric voice with silvery steel elements. Bass Boris Carmeli contributes a fine Tuba mirum but he sounds rather pressed in the upper register.

There is a short filler in the form of the Mozart Ave Verum sung by the chorus, though some may find the tempo rather too slow.

Orchestra and chorus acquit themselves with some honour though frankly the chorus has too much vibrato for my taste - very much of the period.

This CD is volume 3 of a Krips edition being issued by Cascavelle. Documentation is unfortunately minimal, with only a short article and no texts. Beyond the date the concert was recorded we know little else.

There appears to be a 1951 Krips recording of the Mozart Requiem from Vienna which seems unavailable at the moment, so this recording is the only opportunity to hear Krips conduct this work. As a highly regarded Mozartean, many who possess his symphony recordings may also want this historical document. The disc will not be to everyone’s taste. Those wanting pre-period style grandeur in the Mozart Requiem may prefer to seek out a glossier recording. That said, Krips and his forces perform with strong integrity and he allows the music to sing.

Robert Hugill

Krips and his forces perform with strong integrity and he allows the music to sing.