Notes and Editorial Reviews
Georg Christoph Biller, cond; Jutta Böhnert (sop); Susanne Krumbiegel (alt); Martin Petzold (ten); Gotthold Schwarz (bar); Leipzig Gewandhaus O; Leipzig St. Thomas Church Ch
RONDEAU 4019 (47:49
Text and Translation)
New attempts to complete Mozart’s final work, originally finished by Franz Xaver Süssmayr after his death, have proliferated in recent years. A survey of the recorded examples was provided when the latest
one by Knud Vad appeared (23:6). Before any of these more drastic revisions were made, Franz Beyer had taken a more cautious approach to the problem, respecting the solid place in tradition that the work had acquired, no more than touching up the infelicities of Süssmayr’s work. In fact, Beyer has made several successive revisions since the first in 1972. In a lucid note to this recording, Ralph Philipp Ziegler makes a case for Beyer, the version the Thomanerchor sings here. Beyer’s completion, in one version or another, has been recorded numerous times. It is a fine compromise for those who consider any of the new versions too great a departure from a work that has become a permanent fixture of the repertoire, yet realizing the defects of Sussmayr’s efforts.
Also numerous are recordings of the work by boys’ choirs, including the Vienna Choir Boys and the Tölzer Knabenchor; other German, French, and English choirs are also represented, but this is a first for Bach’s own choir. While I am fond of the sound of a good boys’ choir, this one has less of the distinctive tonal quality of boys’ voices than any version of this work I’ve heard. As in all but a couple of recordings, the solos are taken by men and women, and the performance is a straightforward account of the work, unexceptional in every respect. Biller, a former member of the choir, has been Thomaskantor since 1992. The recording was made in St. Thomas Church two years ago.
I’ve heard a majority of all the recordings ever made, and I just love this disc. The bass has a satisfying low range, the tenor is smooth, the alto lovely, and the soprano brilliant. The Gewandhaus Orchestra is as good as its reputation, and basset horns are included as needed. The sound is gorgeous, showing no trace of the public performance that was captured so effectively. A photo of the choir is printed in color twice, one of the views reversed left to right. This disc is so good because it is so unexceptionable. It’s simply very right.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Requiem in D minor, K 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Susanne Krumbiegel (Alto),
Martin Petzold (Tenor),
Gotthold Schwarz (Baritone),
Jutta Böhnert (Soprano)
Georg Christoph Biller
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra,
Leipzig St. Thomas Church Choir
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria
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