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Brilliant Classics

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Mass (No. 18) in C minor KV. 427 ‘The Great’ for solo voices, chorus and orchestra (1783): 1. Kyrie [7’26]; 2. Gloria [2’26]; 3. Laudamus te [5’02]; 4. Gratias [1’09]; 5. Domine [2’44]; 6. Qui tollis [5’11]; 7. Quoniam [3’51]; 8. Jesu Christe [4’45]; 9. Credo [3’36]; 10. Et incarnatus est [9’05]; 11. Sanctus [3’42]; 12. Benedictus [5’24]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Chorales: 13. Jesu meine Freude [2’00]; 14. Unter deinem Schirmen [1’07]; 15. Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme [2’55]; 16. Komm, o Tod du Schlafes Brüder [1’36]; 17. Christus, der ist mein Leben [0’42]; 18. Herzliebster Jesu [1’33]; 19. Drum schliess ich mich in deine Hände [1’17]; 20. Du höchste Liebe, schenk uns deine Gunst [1’05]; 21. Er nahm alles wohl in Acht [1’06]; 22. Meine Augen schliess ich jetzt [1’09]; 23. Nun ruhen alle Wälder [0’54]
Valentina Farcas (soprano) I,
Annemarie Kremer (soprano) II,
Daniel Sans (tenor)
Christof Fischesser (bass)
Jens Wollenschläger (organ)
Camerata Würzburg (Mozart),
Soloists of the Freiburger Barockorchester (Bach)
Chamber Choir of Europe/Nicol Matt (conductor)
Rec. 26-28 November 2001, Kloster Bronnbach, Wertheim, Germany,
Super Audio CD. Original DSD recording. This SACD can also be played on CD players. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92211 [69:57] .

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Nicol Matt and the Chamber Choir of Europe are one of the jewels in the crown of the Brilliant Classics label. On this release Matt and his choir distinguish themselves in the repertoire of Mozart and J.S. Bach, and their singing is unfailingly marked by its sensitivity, reverence and maturity.

The main work is the Mozart Mass. The work seems to have been written by Mozart as a vow to God that he would compose in gratitude a huge Mass should his fiancée Constance Weber recover from serious illness. Mozart started the score early in 1783 however for some mysterious reason he broke the promise as he failed to complete it. Incomplete though it is, the Great Mass in C minor is an undoubted masterwork.

The Chamber Choir of Europe, the Camerata Würzburg and the four soloists under the sterling direction of Nicol Matt competently capture the drama and passion of the Mass. It is not surprising that a work from one of the most world’s most famous stage composers is often extremely operatic in style. This element is successfully blended with the integrity of its liturgical text. In the seven part Gloria the moving Adagio passage for chorus "Gratias agrimus" is poignantly delivered. The attractive duet "Domine deus" for the sopranos Valentina Farcas and Annemarie Kremer is performed with beauty and appropriate serenity.

My particular favourite recording of the ‘Great’ Mass is the interpretation from John Eliot Gardiner with his Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. This is on Philips 420 210-2. Using period instruments this excellent dramatic reading is gloriously sung and played.

The disc also contains eleven of J.S. Bach’s attractive short Chorales. From the rather bewildering booklet notes it is not easy to understand why these have been included alongside the Mozart Mass. I guess that the available space has been used for the Chorales as an example of the discernible influence that Bach’s works had over Mozart’s development as a composer. Joined by soloists from the Freiburger Barockorchester, Nicol Matt and the Chamber Choir of Europe play with real accomplishment, offering sensitive phrasing with a fitting ecclesiastical atmosphere.

As we have come to expect, Brilliant Classics have poorly translated the annotation and there are no texts at all. It is a shame that they consistently let themselves down in this area. The recorded sound is exceptionally clear yet a touch over-bright at the edges for my taste.

A moving and reverential performance. Well worth the investment!

Michael Cookson

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