Notes and Editorial Reviews
...Süssmayr, of course, was not the only, or even the first, person engaged by Constanza Mozart to work on her late husband’s unfinished masterpiece. Her first choice was Josef Eybler, another of Mozart’s students, and the one that Mozart had considered more capable. Eybler worked on the orchestration of the portions of the score for which Mozart had written vocal parts and a continuo bass line, but balked at providing original music for the missing sections of the Requiem. Süssmayr then took over, enjoying the advantage of having discussed Mozart’s intentions for the completion of the score with him. It’s entirely possible that the young assistant had a second advantage, namely that he was not sufficiently aware of the
implications of the monumental task that Eybler had abandoned and that he was undertaking. There’s an unresolved dispute over his decision to bring the score to a close by repeating the music of the first fugue. Constanza claimed that Mozart had requested it, but Süssmayr insisted that it was his own idea. In either case, it has been suggested that the reprised fugue was not substantial enough to bring the epic score to a satisfactory conclusion.
Enter Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm (1778–1858). Neukomm, like Mozart, was something of a musical prodigy. He was a student of Mozart’s lifelong friend, Michael Haydn, and a neighbor of the Mozart family. Given those connections, it is not impossible to imagine that Neukomm was thoroughly versed in the music of Salzburg’s once and future favorite son. In 1797, with Haydn’s blessing, Neukomm settled in Vienna, where he assisted Michael’s brother, the great Josef Haydn. There followed a period in which Neukomm traveled extensively throughout Europe, returning occasionally to Vienna. In 1816, he undertook his most adventurous journey, not as a musician, but as a diplomatic attaché, to Brazil. There, in 1821, he organized a performance of the Requiem, which was thought to be the first music of Mozart heard in the New World. Dissatisfied with Süssmayr’s abrupt ending of the Requiem, he created an entirely new finale, using the text of the Libera me, which Süssmayr, who had worked under extreme pressure, did not set to music. For his piece, he combined original music, written in Mozart’s style, with Mozart’s own—passages taken from the Sequence. Neukomm, of course, had no authority to add to the published score other than his own conviction that he was at least as competent as Süssmayr (or Eybler) to replicate Mozart’s style. The result was a monumental eight-minute movement that is entirely convincing to these ears. It had been buried in an archive in Rio de Janeiro for nearly two centuries, but is now restored to life by Jean-Claude Malgiore and his forces. Thus is opened a new window into the endlessly fascinating world of Mozartiana. The performances are up to the mark, and the live recording excellent (the audience is virtually unnoticeable before the final applause). The notes are informative and invaluable. Very highly recommended.
-- George Chien, FANFARE [11/2006]
Works on This Recording
Requiem in D minor, K 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Alain Buet (Bass Baritone),
Hjördis Thébault (Soprano),
Simon Edwards (Tenor),
Gemma Coma-Alabert (Mezzo Soprano)
La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy,
Saarlouis Evangelical Choir
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
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