This release stands out from among both the dozens or hundreds of available recordings of Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, and from among the recordings in the catalog of France's Alpha label. On the latter count, while most of Alpha's recordings have been historically oriented, this one falls into glorious Russian tradition of luxurious expression, and the usual art-historical essay included with Alpha's discs is missing here (although the packaging does bear some gorgeous Byzantine iconography). The recording pairs four western European soloists, who traveled all the way to Novosibirsk for the lengthy recording sessions, with the New Siberian Singers and the chamber orchestra MusicAeterna under its conductor, Teodor Currentzis. This is not a large choir (33 singers), but it has the rich sound associated with Russian opera choruses, which is what this group does as a general rule. If you're thinking this sounds a bit like Mozart as conducted by Rachmaninov, you're about right, especially in the sections where the dying Mozart seems to gaze into the fires of hell. The considerably more delicate soloists, especially alto Stéphanie Houtzeel, make a vivid contrast with the choir in this deeply colored, almost raw performance, which is nevertheless very carefully done in its details and sonically matched to the Novosibirsk opera house where it was recorded. By any measure this choir is a striking new talent.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Requiem K. 626|