One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Great Mass in C minor KV 427 (1783) (ed. Bernius and Wolf) [52:22]
Credo from KV 427 (Fragment – based on Mozart’s incomplete autograph without completed instrumental parts) [3:36]
Sarah Wegener (soprano); Sophie Harmsen (mezzo-soprano); Colin Balzer (tenor); Felix Rathgeber (bass)
Kammerchor Stuttgart
Hofkapelle Stuttgart/Frieder Bernius
rec. Evangelische Kirche Gönningen, Germany, 20-22 July 2016
CARUS 83.284 [56:06]

Frieder Bernius and musicologist Uwe Wolf collaborated on a new edition of Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C minor by studying the autograph score, such as it is, and devising a new orchestration where those parts were missing. They did not add any movements to the mass, as some previous scholars have done, but stuck with the torso that is most often performed today. Much like Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, Mozart’s Great Mass stands by itself as one of the composer’s supreme masterpieces. In addition to the performance of the mass in this edition, Bernius has appended a fragment of the Credo from the autograph score, which does not contain the completed instrumental parts. All of this would matter greatly had this new version shed significant light on a work that is well known and loved by all devotees of Mozart.

I compared Bernius’ recording with two others also employing period instruments: John Eliot Gardiner’s with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (Philips) and Paul McCreesh’s with the Gabrieli Consort and Players (Archiv). Without having a score to hand, it would be difficult to detect real differences in these versions as to the editions employed. The differences I hear are in the various interpretations and their respective execution. Bernius’ approach is one of monumentality and heft. His choral and vocal forces show conviction, but the competition is considerable. Also his recording tends to be bass heavy with prominent timpani and lower brass that can cover the choir’s singing at times. His tempi are slower for the most part than either Gardiner’s or McCreesh’s. Gardiner is one of the very few to have a tenor intone a brief liturgical chant at the beginning of the Gloria and Credo—a rather effective touch. With his expertise in Bach and Handel, Gardiner keeps the dance element alive in the Credo and Hosanna sections. While he can be monumental when appropriate, he is not heavy and he brings out the joyousness better than I have heard it in other versions. Next to this, McCreesh can seem hasty, though not the speed demon of Louis Langrée in his account (Virgin). The soloists on Bernius’ recording are all more than satisfactory, even if they tend to be operatic and do not blend as well as Gardiner’s or McCreesh’s.

With all the competition, including Masaaki Suzuki’s recent recording for BIS that has garnered much praise, the main reason to hear this new one is for the last track containing the unadorned Credo of the autograph score. Here Bernius takes a lighter approach. If only he had not made such heavy weather of the mass elsewhere.

Carus has outdone itself, however, in its production. The CD is housed within cardboard covers and a substantial booklet containing detailed notes on the genesis of the work and the new edition. If this and the short, original Credo are enough to warrant purchase, then by all means do so. Otherwise, I would stick with Gardiner or another recommended version.

Leslie Wright



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger