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Mozart: Coronation Mass, Missa Brevis / Nethsingha, Gritton, Challenger, St. John's College Choir

Mozart / Gritton / Bourne / Furness / Humphreys
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 786   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Susan GrittonFrances BourneSam FurnessGeorge Humphreys,   ... 
Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College ChoirSt John's Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

There are many fine recordings of the Coronation Mass, but this new Chandos release stands out for a number of reasons: the inclusion of two of the Church sonatas which were written for the purpose of inclusion in the liturgy, the existence of both 16 and 24 bit lossless downloads, the provision of texts and translations, and the couplings which contribute to the generous playing time. That puts it ahead in terms of playing time of the Winchester/Christopher Hogwood version on Decca 4365852 which I recommended in the January 2010 Roundup and rivalled only by Peter Schreier’s excellent Philips coupling of the Requiem and Coronation Masses.

Schreier gives us two masterpieces in excellent performances, still sounding very well on
Read more CD – I can’t vouch for the download but the CD remains my version of choice for the Requiem in particular. If that’s the combination that you want, it’s unbeatable. The Decca recording is also strongly recommended, not least for the team of soloists, especially Emma Kirkby, and the Vesperæ de Confessore coupling is well worth having.

The new Chandos recording is, thus, up against strong competition. The couplings for the Coronation Mass include two short masterpieces, Ave verum corpus and Exsultate, jubilate, but the Missa brevis is a run of the mill example of the short settings that Mozart had to compose for Archbishop Colloredo, who liked to get off hunting after Mass. It is, as Jeremy Summerly’s Chandos notes state, remarkably tight, but I can’t summon much enthusiasm for it.

Susan Gritton is in competition with Emma Kirkby in the Coronation Mass and Exsultate. Heard one straight after the other in the latter work, I have to award the palm to Ms Kirkby and the unassailable beauty of her tone. (With Westminster Cathedral Choir, the Academy of Ancient Music and Christopher Hogwood, Decca Oiseau Lyre 4118332. Also on Eloquence CD 4767460. Be aware, however, that the playing times of the two Kirkby/Hogwood recordings are very short: that including Exsultate runs to just over 47 minutes. Put that Decca recording out of mind and the new Chandos ranks very high.

If I seem to have been praising the new recording with faint damns, let me end by extolling its virtues – it’s only by comparison with Kirkby and Hogwood, both of whom stand almost infallible in my esteem in anything that they touch, that I failed to make this my Download of the Month. It has a great deal going for it – fine solo singing, a choral contribution from a choir to challenge the best that Oxford and Cambridge have to offer, with a director who has improved even on his predecessor, a fine period-instrument accompaniment, excellent recording in a variety of formats – I listened to the 16/44.1 version – and a first-class booklet and this should be a best-seller.

I even award some points in favour of the new recording – the beautiful Agnus Dei, so reminiscent of the Countess’s aria Voi che sapete in Figaro, sounds less drawn out than by Hogwood, though they take almost exactly the same time on paper; the tempo transition at around 4 minutes is more naturally handled, and the Gritton sings Agnus in the Italian manner, where Kirkby employs the hard g of her classical Latin training – yes, I was taught to pronounce it that way, too, and they probably used the Germanic hard g in Austria in Mozart’s time, but I persist in disliking it.

- Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International (Review of the download version.)
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Works on This Recording

1.
Mass in C major, K 317 "Coronation" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Susan Gritton (Soprano), Frances Bourne (Mezzo Soprano), Sam Furness (Tenor),
George Humphreys (Baritone)
Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir,  St John's Sinfonia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1779; Salzburg, Austria 
2.
Church Sonata for Organ and Strings no 1 in E flat major, K 67 (41h): Andantino by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Skidmore (Cello), Margaret Faultless (Violin), John Challenger (Organ),
Simon Jones (Violin), Kate Aldridge (Double Bass)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1772; Salzburg, Austria 
3.
Ave verum corpus in D major, K 618: Adagio by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St John's Sinfonia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Austria 
4.
Missa brevis in F major, K 192 (186f) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Susan Gritton (Soprano), Frances Bourne (Mezzo Soprano), Sam Furness (Tenor),
George Humphreys (Baritone)
Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir,  St John's Sinfonia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1774; Salzburg, Austria 
5.
Church Sonata for Organ and Strings no 7 in F major, K 224 (241a): Allegro con spirito by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Andrew Skidmore (Cello), Margaret Faultless (Violin), John Challenger (Organ),
Simon Jones (Violin), Kate Aldridge (Double Bass)
6.
Exsultate jubilate, K 165 (158a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor:  Andrew Nethsingha
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge St. John's College Choir,  St John's Sinfonia
Period: Classical 
Written: 1773; Milan, Italy 

Sound Samples

Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Kyrie
Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Gloria
Church Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, K. 67, "Epistle Sonata": Church Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, K. 67
Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Credo
Church Sonata No. 7 in F major, K. 224
Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Sanctus
Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Benedictus
Mass No. 16 in C major, K. 317, "Kronungsmesse" (Coronation Mass): Agnus Dei
Ave verum corpus, K. 618
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Kyrie
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Gloria
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Credo
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Sanctus
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Benedictus
Missa brevis in F major, K. 192: Agnus Dei
Exsultate jubilate, K. 165 *: Exsultate, jubilate
Exsultate jubilate, K. 165 *: Fulgat amica dies
Exsultate jubilate, K. 165 *: Tu virginum corona
Exsultate jubilate, K. 165 *: Allelujah

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 in response to Kirkby vs. Gritton January 6, 2014 By Jonathan H. (Culpeper, VA) See All My Reviews "I don't question Kirkby's musicianship, but her voice has a brightness - and it might not be to everyone's tastes anyway. Pretty much all of the Hogwood offerings from the early 80s were recorded exceptionally well given their early digital origins, but that's not to say they don't escape occasional unnatural brightness. The "Jubilate" Hogwood/Kirkby sessions came from Kingsway Hall with some of the best sound Decca/OL gave Hogwood (in my humble view) - so people should have it also, and if Kirkby's voice is to your liking." Report Abuse
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