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Mozart Requiem - Audiophile Audition

05 May 2003
Audiophile Audition
John Sunier

There are many versions of this work - one of the superb liturgical works in the repertory - including some in SACD. But this refined and musicologically accurate performance quickly takes a top rating. It uses the completed edition prepared by Harvard Professor Robert Levin seeking to make the music closer to what Mozart might have written himself rather than what his student Sussmayr as well as others penned after the composer's death. It is not known exactly which portions of the score are actually Mozart's music and which are primarily his students. Levin strove to preserve as much of Sussmayr's music as possible while improving on it. Among the more subtle changes, the Osanna has been re-written in a more elaborate and interesting style, and the Lacrimosa has an Amen fugue added on which is based on a recently rediscovered fragment of Mozart's own writing.

Mackerras and the chamber orchestra achieve clear textures and a lean sound with winds and brass more prominent than most interpretations of the Requiem. More details of the music are thus revealed. Any of the great requiems are perfect material for multichannel; it adds immensely to the experience. The recent standard CD version on Dorian that we reviewed also uses the Robert Levin edition, but I find Mackerras' version to have a fuller, less spare sound - and not just due to the higher resolution and multichannel delivery. With an addition such as this to the growing classical hi-res discography, Linn matches their reputation for superb recording standards with a genuinely superb performance.

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