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Mozart: Requiem; J.C. Bach / Van Veldhoven, Netherlands Bach Society


Release Date: 09/10/2002 
Label:  Channel Classics   Catalog #: 18198   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartJohann Christian Bach
Performer:  Marie-Noëlle de CallataÿAnnette MarkertRobert GetchellPeter Harvey
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society ChoirNetherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is about as enjoyable a version of the Mozart Requiem as I have ever encountered, and I use the word "version" in more than one sense, referring not only to the performance and recording but to their musicological basis in the shape of the score employed. In 25:6 my colleague George Chien nicely observed that Franz Xaver Süssmayr "seems to be winning the culture war," noting that despite all the attempts that scholars have made to arrive at a better completion of Mozart's unfinished work, most new recordings lately "have reverted to the familiar Süssmayr version."

What we are offered in this Channel Classics recording from the Netherlands may be described as the best of both
Read more worlds. Jos van Veldhoven has based his performance on Süssmayr, but has incorporated a number of crucial improvements effected by the Dutch musicologist Marius Flothuis (1914-2001), who was also a composer of some repute (a fact curiously unmentioned in the otherwise excellent booklet). For 20 years starting in 1955, Flothuis was the artistic director of Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra, and it was in his earlier assistant capacity in the late 1930s that he was asked by the orchestra's chief conductor, Eduard van Beinum, to "attempt to 'purify' and 'Mozartize' the score."

Among those who have tried their hand at re-completions in our own day, one at least—Robert Levin, whose edition was well recorded, with period instruments, by Martin Pearlman for Telarc— is probably a better and more creative musician than Süssmayr. But Mozart's pupil was, after all, Mozart's pupil. It is not unreasonable to suppose that he had some greater degree of privileged access to the composer's own ideas than is available to anyone today, and therefore to come down in favor of using his edition in preference to its various successors. There are, indeed, two major flies in Süssmayr's ointment. One of them is the generally excessive nature of his trombone parts (and the specific extension of the solo trombone in the Tuba mirum; and the biggest fly of all is the totally unsatisfactory solution he hit upon for the repetition of the Osanna, which he kept in the B?-Major tonality of the Benedictus that it follows, thus creating a distinct anticlimax in relation to the assertive D-Major of its first appearance.

Both of these problems Flothuis has taken steps to overcome. The Tuba mirum solo reverts here to the length Mozart prescribed for it, and the trombone parts overall are considerably lightened (though Flothuis notes that Van Veldhoven has elected to follow something of a middle course, facilitated by the present-day availability of 18th-century or reconstructed instruments such as were nowhere to be found 60 years ago). By far the most telling stroke, however, is Flothuis's transposition of the second Osanna back up to its native D Major, prepared by the insertion of two additional measures where, his lucid explanation tells us, he "made use of a harmonic procedure which can be found, among other places, in the second-act Sextet of Don Giovanni, measures 27-30." Levin did something very similar at this juncture, but the present point is to observe how very simply and effectively these revisions can fit into an otherwise relatively faithful preservation of the traditional Süssmayr score.

The virtues of the Channel Classics release continue with the sane, sensitive, and technically adroit contributions of performers and recording team alike. I find Van Veldhoven's pacing of the work—less hectic than Pearlman's—eminently judicious throughout, and conducive perhaps to an expressive balance tilted more in the direction of lyricism than we often find in this work. Chorus and (period-instruments) orchestra both acquit themselves splendidly, and the radiant sonority of the perfectly tuned final chord of the Kyrie is merely one among many examples of the benefit that meticulous intonation can confer on choral textures. All four soloists, moreover, sing beautifully, the audience—this is a live recording—behaves impeccably, and the recorded sound is characteristic of the undemonstrative excellence to be expected from Channel's boss and producer, Jared Sacks. It is good enough in the regular CD format, and still more sumptuously natural in the multichannel SACD version.

Two movements from an unfinished Requiem setting by Johann Christian Bach conclude the program. Probably student work dating from the composer's early twenties, this rather stiff music bears something of the same relation to his more familiar tuneful galant manner as—to offer a rather lofty parallel—Monteverdi's polyphonic prima prattica bore to his melodic seconda prattica a cen-tury-and-a-half earlier. The disc's overall playing-time is still fairly short, but it is good to have this rarity by way of filler.

-- Bernard Jacobson, FANFARE [1/2003]


Work continues on Mozart’s Requiem over 200 years since its composition. Musicologists have always been reluctant to allow Süssmayr’s completion to stand as written, and on this disc we hear the fruits of the labours of Marius Flothuis, an ex-director of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and former professor of musicology at Utrecht, who died last year. The major changes are a rewriting of trombone parts (the trombone looms very large in the Requiem) and a recasting of the Osanna at the end of the Benedictus, which in Flothuis’s version is a somewhat leaner and tauter affair. The whole comes across as fresh and clean – which certainly owes less to minor amendments to the score than to an admirable performance by the Netherlands Bach Society under Jos van Veldhoven.

The pace Veldhoven establishes at the start is finely judged, dignified without dragging, stepping from bass to treble beats in a manner that is properly formal without being square and rigid. It is a harbinger of Veldhoven’s good judgement throughout, which the Bach Society orchestra respond to immaculately. They are heard at their best in a suitably furious ‘Dies irae’ and at glorious full flight in the ‘Rex tremendae’. Here, also, the chorus is exemplary: articulate, full-bodied and unerringly accurate. The only quibble might be with the soloists, who apart from Peter Harvey are occasionally vulnerable. Nonetheless, the performance has many more pros than cons, and is supplemented by touchingly beautiful miniatures by JC Bach.

-- Christopher Wood, BBC Music Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Requiem in D minor, K 626 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Marie-Noëlle de Callataÿ (Soprano), Annette Markert (Alto), Robert Getchell (Tenor),
Peter Harvey (Bass)
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Choir,  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Tilburg, Netherlands 
Length: 46 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
2.
Messa de' morti: Introitus by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Choir,  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1757; Italy 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Tilburg, Netherlands 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
3.
Messa de' morti: Kyrie by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Jos van Veldhoven
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Bach Society Choir,  Netherlands Bach Society Baroque Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1757; Italy 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, Tilburg, Netherlands 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

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