"I'm going to slyly avoid the arguments about the different versions of Mozart's Requiem mass, because the most important thing to me is the quality of the performance: and Hogwood's is the best. While I enjoyed listening to William Christie's recording, and Herreweghe's disc excels in the trumpets and drums department (very crisp), what really stands above on this recording is Emma Kirkby's perfect solo voice. When her voice first rings out, it is the most pure and beautiful I can imagine. Not Figueras on Savall's rendition, nor the soloists for Christie, Herreweghe, and Gardiner, are her equal. Kirkby avoids the trappings of vibrato and other inappropriate colorations, and simply shines through. The AAM plays very well and the boys chorus brings a haunting, gorgeous touch to the Confutatis. This is a recording that should last through the ages as a classic, I hope. We are fortunate that it is still available!"
A great recording of a lesser-known arrangement of this work
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb recording, featuring some of the best voices in choral music today. Because Mozart died before he finished the Requiem, there are several versions of the finished piece arranged by students or colleagues of Mozart after his death. This is the only recording I have been able to find of the Maunder version of the Requiem. The more popular version of the Requiem is arranged by Sussmayer, a student of Mozart's, and it's often hard to find anything different. This is a beautiful, moving piece of music and I would highly recommend this recording."
Superb and Haunting
justin meyer | Stanford, CA | 02/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of the famous Death Mass embodies all that Mozart himself would have wanted, powerful raw emotion and celestial reflection. My personal tastes in choral singing includes the traditional all-male chorale, and the effects of such beautiful nuance from mixed choirs make the recording particularly personal. For one, the purity of male trebles in the Requiem offer precise articulation in the fugue sections of Kyrie and Lux Aeterna that in other recordings blur because of the female vibrato. The clarity given to these lines add an element of beauty to the horrific tones instead of just the "elephant trampling" effect of other recordings (I know this because I own 9 different recordings of Requiem, including those that are supposedly 5 star). Another strength of the all-male chorale is the way that transition into more quiet and seductive melodies within larger, fearful movements happens with great ease and haunting effect (the treble melodies of "salve me" and "voca me" are angelically beautiful and perfect). As to other gems of this incredible recording, the interpretation of each movement seems to be just right and viable in producing the specific affectations in the listener. The use of timpani is moderate and effective in bringing out a certain "rawness" in sections like Kyrie and Dies Irae. One of my favorite moments is at the end of the Kyrie and the Lux Aerterna sections. The last chord of these sections is sung as an open fifth amoung the voices, leaving an incredibly profound ambiguity as to the nature of the end of both the piece and of life(this being a death mass) as to whether resolution from the minor key has taken place . The soprano soloist mimics the celestial beauty in the upper register of the boy trebles and brings superb relfection in the solo sections of the first and last movements. The accompaniment moves the recording accurately as a "sea of sound," rising and crashing at the crests and calming as if it were another "organ" of this organism of a recording, acting in conjunction with the chorale but also as its own entity. The blend of everything is superb, the soloists are gorgeous each in their own right, the chorale performs wonderfully, and the selected versions of the Requiem fit perfectly together as what Mozart would have wanted. I am an avid collector of choral music, I have sung in choirs since I was 5, I know the Requiem backwards and forwards, and no other Mozart Requiem recording gives me as much satisfaction."
Beautiful contribution by Emma Kirkby.
Anton Karidian | Toronto | 01/28/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This edition of the Requiem tries to eliminate anything that was not written by the hand of Mozart. Sussymayer, Eybler tamperings are not presented here in the Maunder edition.This version is an early 80's recording with Christopher Hogwood with the signature "Hogwood" sound. Beautifully recorded and buoyant. I do recommend this version for the fine singing of soprano Emma Kirkby.Hogwood chooses to use the Maunder edition which substitutes key sections with pieces from other Mozart compositions in an effort to keep the composition as purely Mozart as possible. In doing so, he may have achieved to some degree a more "pure" Mozart authorship, but on the other hand the piece has lost it's overall musical structure and proportion and in this respect it is clearly less "Mozartian".Still, it is interesting to listen to this version but if I were limited to only one version I would choose the Sussmayr edition and in this regard I recommend the one directed by George Guest and the English Chamber Orchestra with Choir of St. John Cambridge recorded on Chandos."
A transcendent Requiem
justin meyer | 10/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was a recording that had to be made. It opens a window on the Wagnerian fug that frequently characterizes renditions of the Requiem. To actually hear Mozart's voiceleading and counterpoint, to hear clearly the debt Mozart owed to Bach and Handel, is a revelation.The ancient liturgical psalm tone "tonus peregrinus" used by Mozart for the "te decet hymnus" is, in most performances I have heard, crushed under the weight and obscured by the vibrato of the dramatic soprano voice. By contrast, Kirkby's pure, straight voice is the perfect instrument to spin out these delicate filaments of musical prayer.The other-worldly quality of the Westminster boys' voices gives this rendition a lightness, transparency and transcendence that is noticeably absent from performances by mixed choirs and soloists schooled in the more earthy operatic tradition.Because this Requiem recording is something of a rarity in its use of a boychoir, it will raise eyebrows in quarters where the nature of the boychoir is perhaps insufficiently appreciated. Surprisingly, no review of this recording that I have read thus far alludes to the ecclesiastical ethos behind this music, especially as regards the use of boys' voices for texts that are admittedly of rather mature content.Mozart's Requiem is in fact sacred music - the text is drawn from the ritual of the Catholic Church. In Mozart's time, only male voices were permitted in the singing of the ritual music. The appropriateness or otherwise of children singing texts of hellfire and damnation was not an issue. We tend to forget this in today's politically-correct society which, rightly or wrongly, shields the young from such ideas as condemnation, guilt and punishment; thus some of us are disturbed on hearing the Dies Irae sung by boys.This purports to be an historically accurate performance, and the boy's voice is simply a standard vehicle of the sacred music of 18th-century Austria. Whether the boys comprehend what they are singing is beside the point; how many of the men in this choir can say they understand the mysteries of life and death any better? Mozart isn't giving us answers, he is leading us in the exploration of these mysteries. True to this spirit, this performance presents us with some compelling question marks."