Mariss Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Mozart: Requiem

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In this era of minimally sized ensembles performing Mozart, it's almost refreshing to hear the composer's swan song, the unfinished Requiem in D minor, K. 626, performed by the sizable Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam under conductor Mariss Jansons. The recording is part of a series of live performances of major requiem masses, with those by Brahms and Verdi following this one. Indeed, Jansons' reading of Mozart's mass seems to look forward to the other two; it has a broad Romantic feel and an operatic tinge in the solo parts, ably supported by a quartet of soloists including the mighty contralto Bernarda Fink. Operatic is probably the way to go in Mozart when dealing with a large orchestra, and in general this is a strong example of a rather old-fashioned way of doing Mozart, one that still has plenty of mileage. Sample the opening Introitus and its extremely unusual and very effective pacing quality. The Netherlands Radio Choir's contributions in the explosive Dies Irae and other large sections are outstanding, with power married to contrapuntal precision. The sound from the engineering team associated with the orchestra's in-house label is excellent; there's many a studio recording that can only aspire to this level of clarity and fidelity. This is, in short, an exceptional Mozart Requiem for anyone with any sympathy for what the 19th century brought to the work.

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