Is there any reason for another performance of Mozart's Requiem? Is there any reason for another flower on earth, another wave in the sea, another star in the sky? Like gravity, relativity, and eternity, another performance of Mozart's Requiem justifies its own existence, and with it, of course, our own, because existence without it would be, if not quite meaningless, at least immeasurably impoverished.
But is there any reason to release another recording of another performance of Mozart's Requiem? It depends on the performance. While it is hard to imagine a less than wholly heartfelt and utterly sincere performance -- this is, after all, one of the supreme art works of Western culture -- it is equally hard to imagine that a new performance will demand the attention of every listener like the greatest recorded performances of the past: Bruno Walter's with the Wiener Philharmoniker in 1937 or Karl Böhm's recording with the same orchestra in 1971. Does this 2005 Jirí Belohlávek/BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus recording stand with them? No, not really, but that doesn't mean Belohlávek doesn't have something to say about the work. Belohlávek is a skillful Czech conductor with a unique ability to blend color with line and form with drama in his recordings of Dvorák, Janácek, Suk, and Martinu and his interpretation here is dark-hued but lyrical, harmonically austere but deeply expressive. The BBC Symphony & Chorus is more than up to the task -- listen for the soulful trombone in the "Tuba mirum" and the robust chorus in the "Rex tremendae" -- and the soloists, while made up of second-tier English soloists, are appropriately heartfelt and sincere. The coupling of Walter Weller and the BBC's 2003 recording of Mozart's Symphony No. 36 is, unfortunately, fairly crudely played and conducted with raw dynamics and rough transitions. BBC's sound is warm but too wide.