RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Missa Sanctae Caeciliae (1772)
Lucia Popp (soprano); Doris Soffel (contralto); Horst Laubenthal (tenor); Kurt Moll (bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of Bavarian Radio/Rafael Kubelik
rec. Basilika Ottobeuren, Germany, 1982
Sound Format LPCM Stereo, DD 5.1 Surround; Picture Format 4:3
DVD Region Code 0
Also available in audio only on Orfeo C 032 821 A
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 533 [73:00]
This performance is absolutely magnificent. Kubelik clearly loves this music, his little smile at the end speaks volumes, and even though his tempos and thus the overall timing are a little slow by recent standards it never drags. The moderate-sized orchestra and chorus are as polished as one could wish and give this superb music all the vitality it requires. The soloists are excellent and the less-well-known tenor is not outclassed by his illustrious fellow singers. That said, Lucia Popp is simply wonderful in the Laudamus Te, singing with all the radiance she can muster. It was good to hear the great Kurt Moll singing other than opera and to be reminded what a very fine contralto we have in Doris Soffel.
This is a 1982 film made originally for Bayerischer Rundfunk TV and is therefore a 4:3 picture. The video quality is very satisfactory even on a large modern screen, as long as you have moderate expectations. The sound is also very acceptable and certainly good enough in terms of clarity and spaciousness. The camera work is mostly restrained and does not follow the all too frequent modern practice of cutting in time with the music or with instrumental solos. The director is fully aware of the beautiful Basilika in which this live concert took place and provides plenty of long and close up shots at appropriate moments. The performers are filmed in sufficient detail to enjoy some splendid 1980s hairdos, male and female, which brought a smile to one's lips. What the film captures is the atmosphere of a concert so good that the audience stays in rapt silence at the end right through the tolling of the abbey bells and we never reach any applause before the film ends. It is all very moving and I would urge anyone looking for a recording of this Mass to place it high on the list.
A great performance of great music in a beautiful German abbey.