Dunedin Consort - Mozart: Requiem - Audiophile.no
18 August 2014Audiophile.no
Karl Erik Sylthe
Dunedin Consort under the direction of John
Butt has made a very special recording of Mozart's Requiem. I've listened to
Dunendin Consort is based in Edinburgh,
specializing in Baroque, sacred vocal music. This is the ninth recording by
Linn Records, and with the exception of the first, which had works by Aaron
Copland and Samuel Barber, it has contained the music of George Frideric Handel
and the Bach family. But now they move slightly forward in time to Mozart. Or
more specifically to Mozart's final year. And his death.
Mozart's Requiem has been recorded in a
number of different issues, and also Linn Records has released this work
before. In 2003, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the late
Sir Charles Mackerras recorded a version by Robert Levin. This was one of many
attempts to show improvements of the completions Mozart's student Sussmayr
performed after Mozart's death. This enhancement was one of many who came
during the last decades of the previous century.
There have been many views on the quality of
Sussmayr`s completion of Mozart's Requiem. It is rightly pointed out that
Sussmayr hardly belong to the aces of music history. On the other hand, he is
the only one of those who have completed Mozart's Requiem that has known
Mozart, and walking in the same musical atmosphere that he - he almost felt the
pulse in a musical sense.
Dunendin Consort has taken hold of this, and
had ambitions to make a recording that as far as possible is a reconstruction
of the first performances. And already here we build a diverse topic. It may be
considered as the official first recording, the one that was the basis of
the order of Mozart's Requiem - a memorial Mass for the deceased wife of Count
Franz von Walsegg. This was the performance in a church in Wiener Neustadt on
14 December 1793 - two years after Mozart's death. But the Requiem was
performed already almost a year earlier in a benefit concert for Mozart's
widow, Constanze, in early January 1793.
David Black has just completed a thorough job
of reconstructing Sussmayr's original completion of the Requiem, where it also
is fairly well documented where Mozart left off, and where Sussmayr took over.
Dunedin Consort mention this work as a critical source for their own work on reconstruction,
although it does not appear clear whether there is a direct cause of the
project. It is nevertheless very obvious that Dunedin Consort has placed a lot
of resources in setting up a likely equal orchestral composition, compared to
those who were durng the two known performances in 1793.
But then, it was probably not in 1793 the
premiere of this gigantic work was helt. Many sources clam that the work was
performed at a memorial for Mozart himself, at December 10, 1791 - five days
after his death. And Dunedin Consort has also recorded a reconstruction of this
performance. Here they have far less information to rely on, so it is far more
vague assumptions that underlie than for the performances in 1993. They find it
likely that the first two parts were performed, ieRequiem aeternam and Kyrie.
They also reasoned their way to a herd where many instruments and voice parts
are halved compared to 1993-the performance.
It's all part of a world-class performance of
Dunedin Consort. This is also a performance with clear characteristics, both in
relation to prevailing interpretations in general, and in relation to SCO /
Mackerras's recording. I find it reasonable to assume that the Dunedin
Consort's performance also reflects the fact that they are an orchestra that
focuses on Baroque music. Anyway, I find this interpretation in many ways to be
closer to baroque in expression than many other recordings I've listened to. Do
we dare to distinguish this period by two diametrically angles - in cartoons
"late Baroque" and "early romance"? If so, this is definitely
late Baroque ...
I find that many of the parts are performed
slightly faster than usual, and with a slightly lighter character. I am not
able to decide whether this is a more timely and less romantic interpretation
than mainstream interpretations, but would not rule it out. I usually have a
preference that the opening portion Requiem aeternam should be played somewhat slower, but
on a type of recording like this, it becomes irrelevant. Tuba
miram in slot 4 is
the part that fascinates me most of the main show from 1793. Here we find
accentuation that makes it a great and different music experience from what you
normally get. Also Recordare has a special, wonderful rhythmic
For me the most fascinating part is the last
two tracks, which then is the supposed reconstruction of the peformance at
Mozart's own memorial at 10. of December 1791. In addition to that there is a
lineup that I think suits this work, I feel that it almost provides an
atmosphere of being present in Mozart's funeral. Devoutly, and slightly spooky.
Dunedin Consort's release on Linn Records is
a multi-channel SACD, recorded in Greyfriar's Kirk in Edinburgh. Linn Records
have a very big range in their approaches to multi-channel mix, from the
radical to the rather conservative. On this recording we lean towads the more
conservative, and so did the SCO-recording of Requiem. That means a recording
where the surround channels are used for ambience. It is an approach that fits
the musical material.
The recording is as usual of high quality,
and with good dynamics.
Although there are crowds of recordings with
Mozart's Requiem out there, this is a version you can not miss. It is the
thorough preliminary studies in combination with the high quality of Dunedin Consort that make this something special. And most importantly for me is the
tentative reconstructions from 10 December 1791. It makes this record one of
the most important releases of Mozart's Requiem.
Related LinksDunedin ConsortJohn ButtMozart: Requiem (Reconstruction of first performance)