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Simon MAYR (1763 – 1845)
Miserere in G minor, for soloists, chorus and orchestra [46:44]
Litaniae Lauretanae in G minor for soloists, chorus and orchestra [11:01]
Andrea Lauren Brown (soprano), Jaewon Yun (soprano), Theresa Holzhauser (alto), Markus Schäfer (tenor), Robert Sellier (tenor), Jens Hamann (bass), Virgil Mischok (bass)
Simon Mayr Chorus, Members of the Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Concerto de Bassus, I Virtuosi Italiani/Franz Hauk
rec. 2014, Asam Church Maria de Victoria, Ingolstadt, Germany
Latin texts with English translations provided
NAXOS 8.573782 [57:45]

Franz Hauk’s series with Simon Mayr’s music, most of it never before recorded, goes from strength to strength, and this Miserere is no exception. He set quite a few Misereres, but this one in G minor is unique since it encompasses a complete setting of the Psalm in its original configuration. The exact time for composition is uncertain. ‘1803’ on the cover of the score may refer to the first performance in Bergamo. It also seems that it was performed rather frequently, and this is easy to understand when hearing it. As always the orchestration is superb – personal and superb – with delicious instrumental solos, mainly woodwind. In this particular work the solo oboe has a lot to do, being called for to play obbligato to the vocal soloists in several places. The structure is rather straightforward: an opening chorus with the four solo singers, a tenor aria followed by a soprano solo, then a chorus with soloists, an alto solo, a bass solo, a duet for soprano and alto, then a chorus with soloists, followed by a second tenor solo and a concluding chorus. Several of the arias are quite extended and involves some demanding coloratura singing in places.

The opening Miserere mei, Deus is noble and solemn, whereupon the solo tenor Amplius lava me offers excellent lyrical singing. The soprano’s Tibi soli peccavi offers some virtuoso display in duet with the oboe. Asperges me hyssop is a dark but beautiful piece for the chorus and then the alto’s Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis is preceded by a long introduction with solo violin, which also plays some obbligato to the great vocal solo. The oboe is again featured in the bass aria Docebo iniquos vias tuas, excellently sung with impressively clear enunciation. The duet Domine, labia mea aperies is the most beautiful part of the work, their voices blending admirably. In the tenor’s second solo, Benigne fac Domine, obbligatos are provided by trumpet and horn, and then the concluding chorus is a true fugue.

In the Litaniae Lauretanae, also in G minor, we hear a new soprano, tenor and bass while Theresa Holzhauser is retained from the Miserere. The work is composed c. 1800, and thus roughly contemporaneous with the Miserere. It is a fitting complement to the Miserere, with frequent repetition of Santa Maria.

The soloists are all well-known from one or more previous recordings in this series and they are very good indeed. We have also come to expect good choral and orchestral contributions from Hauk’s forces and they certainly live up to expectations.

Readers who have followed this series can with confidence invest in this latest addition. For each new recording one marvels at the high level of excellence of the music, and one always long for the next instalment. The present issue had been in the can for almost four years before it was issued. Perhaps it was wise to hold back and not overflow the market, but Naxos should know that there are several of us who can’t get enough of Mayr’s music.

Göran Forsling



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