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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Miserere in A minor K85 [6:32]
George Frederic HANDEL (1685-1759)
Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline HWV264 [2:17]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Requiem, K626; Ave verum corpus, K618 [49:40]
Genia Kühmeier (soprano)
Elizabeth Kulman (alto)
Julien Behr (tenor)
Charles Dekeyser (bass)
Salzburg Bach Choir
Les Musiciens du Louvre/Marc Minkowski
rec. live, January 2017, Felsenreitschule, Salzburg; Académie équestre nationale de Versailles, director Bartabas
C MAJOR DVD 741808 [59 mins]

This DVD contains the unique image of a troupe of horses dancing to the music of Mozart’s Requiem. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. This is the sort of spectacle that will split its viewers. Some will find it embarrassing and bizarrely comical; others, primarily those who dote on horses—which are of course wonderful creatures—may well find it moving and beautiful.

I have to confess I fall into the former group. The playing and singing of the Requiem is fine, and the skill of the animals and their riders is spectacular. Conductor Marc Minkowski, according to the notes with the DVD, is a lifelong lover of horses.

But do these things add up to an edifying musical, balletic or zoological experience? To my mind, no. My suggestion would be, turn off the picture if possible, and listen to a very decent performance of the music. Or alternatively, buy one of the other fine performances of the work available on DVD, for example Abbado’s splendid one with the Berlin Philharmonic on Euroarts, or, rather more recently, John Eliot Gardiner with the Monteverdi choir and a superb group of soloists in a performance recorded by Philips in Barcelona.

The only other aspect of this disc I can honestly recommend is the inclusion of the fourteen-year-old Mozart’s Miserere K85—archaic in style and supported only by organ—and the solemn orchestral introduction to Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline from 1737.

Don’t get me wrong - I love horses, and hugely admire the talent of the equestrians on show here. I just don’t think that they mix with Mozart’s sublime music.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


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