Gerd Guglhör

Abbé Volger: Requiem; Joseph Haydn: Te Deum

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The booklet notes for this German release state that, although Carl Maria von Weber pronounced the work "divine," Georg Joseph Abbé Vogler's Requiem was "soon forgotten." This may be so, but Vogler's music was well enough known that Robert Browning could include a poem about him in the collection Dramatis Personae in 1864 and have confidence that readers would know what he was talking about. Browning's poem describes Vogler's ability to improvise spectacular programmatic pieces on the organ (an interesting thing in itself), and one can hear the same kind of vivid representational thinking in this Requiem mass. It's quite an exciting work, clearly the product of a composer acquainted with Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, but in many ways oriented more toward the nineteenth century, in whose first decade it was composed, than toward the eighteenth. The mass is uneven, but there are some spectacular moments: the unusual harmonic construction of the entire Kyrie section; the scope of the sequence, with a massive "Tuba mirum" that seems to anticipate the Berlioz Requiem; and the gorgeous solo cello that opens the Agnus Dei. This is a situation in which the German tradition of weighty choral singing operates to the work's advantage; the Neue Hofkapelle München and Orpheus Chor München under Gerd Guglhör maintain a rich yet transparent sound that's ideal for the music. The sunny Haydn Te Deum, Hob. 23c/2, makes an ideal curtain raiser for the Vogler, which clocks in at nearly an hour. This is a welcome revival of the music of a composer who is better known by name than by his works, and there is much more where this comes from; Vogler's output was huge. Booklet notes are in German and English, but the texts of the two works, not at all difficult to obtain in English, are given in Latin and German only.

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