The small Opus 111 imprint records many of the small gems of Baroque and Classical music. Here is a disc from the fine Belgian historical-performance ensemble Il Fondamento. Johann Adolf Hasse is remembered mostly as an opera composer, but he also contributed copiously to the large corpus of now-undiscovered religious music of the middle eighteenth century. The Requiem in C major that makes up the bulk of the present disc, in particular, was widely recognized for its originality in Hasse's own time, as is attested to by the large numbers of copies of the work that have been found all over Europe. The major key gives a hint of the from-a-modern-perspective unusual qualities of this work, which little resembles Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, or the long tradition of works that remembered it. The mood from the start is, if not sunny, at least serene, and even the texts depicting the day of judgment pass only as stormy ripples in a clear sky. The requiem might seem a quintessentially choral event, but Hasse's conception of the work is operatic. He makes up for the lack of gravity not only with spectacular arias, duets, and trios, but also with dramatic strokes opposing choir and soloists; indeed, the choir here seems to function almost as an adjunct to the solo singers. And this recording shines in all the solo passages, but especially in those involving alto Susanna Moncayo von Hase, a rich voice with a wide range equally capable of holding the stage on her own or interacting with soprano Greta de Reyghere in sinuous duets. The final Miserere in E minor, with choruses, alto, and bass solos, and a wonderful Libera me trio, is cut from the same cloth and was also widely admired in its own time. Highly recommended, even if you wouldn't pick it out as a memorial gift.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Requiem in C major|
|Miserere in E minor|