Mozart: Requiem [Levin Edition]

Mozart: Requiem [Levin Edition]

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by Donald Runnicles
     
 

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The list of those who have tinkered with Mozart's unfinished Requiem is long, including such major modern-era figures as Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, and Thomas Beecham. F. X. Süssmayer's version, completed shortly after Mozart's death and the standard one ever since, has never been considered fully satisfactory, and Robert Levin's 1993 revision, presented on this…  See more details below

Overview

The list of those who have tinkered with Mozart's unfinished Requiem is long, including such major modern-era figures as Bruno Walter, Richard Strauss, and Thomas Beecham. F. X. Süssmayer's version, completed shortly after Mozart's death and the standard one ever since, has never been considered fully satisfactory, and Robert Levin's 1993 revision, presented on this fine recording, is another attempt to remedy that situation. Levin doesn't reject Süssmayer out of hand; rather, he takes him as a starting point, fine-tuning his orchestration and adjusting his harmonic and part-writing errors. More daringly, Levin lengthens the "Hosanna" fugues that follow the "Sanctus" and "Benedictus" and supplies a new "Amen" fugue after the "Lacrimosa," expanding on a Mozart sketch that Süssmayer discarded. Finally, he rearranges some of the movements to better conform to the Mozart-era convention of ending each Mass section with a fugue. Whether or not this will become the benchmark edition going forward, it's hard to argue with the beautiful performance conductor Donald Runnicles draws from his Atlanta musicians. Runnicles keeps the pace moving briskly, though not at the expense of detail, and he elicits a warm, full tone from the orchestra and chorus. His four soloists -- soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose, tenor John Tessier, and bass Eric Owens -- each contribute solid ensemble and solo work, especially Owens in the resounding "Tuba mirum." Those looking for a more dramatically charged reading may want to give Nikolaus Harnoncourt's thrilling 2004 recording a try. But this one, poised somewhere between cutting-edge performances like Harnoncourt's and more traditional accounts and drawing on a much improved score, may be the one to return to again and again.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times - Jeremy Eichler
Mr. Levin respects Süssmayr's close connection to Mozart and does not jettison his work but sensibly improves on it, thinning, grooming and correcting, with a keen scholarly eye and an intuitive grasp of Mozart's idiom.
Gramophone - Richard Wigmore
The 70-strong choir, though slightly recessed in the balance, sing with fervour and cope adroitly with Runnicles' zestful tempi for the Kyrie and "Quam olim Abrahae" fugues. Orchestral detail is sensitively shaped...and the soloists are good.
Time Out New York - Vivien Schweitzer
Runnicles coaxes a clean, historically informed but warm sound from his ensembles, providing the music with a stirring momentum and gripping urgency that never descends into sentimentality.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Sarah Bryan Miller
[Grade: A] A sterling reading.... Runnicles knows voices, and he treats them well. The chorus...sings with clarity, beauty, a good blend and exactitude. So do the soloists.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/23/2005
Label:
Telarc
UPC:
0089408063626
catalogNumber:
80636
Rank:
241445

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, K. 626  - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  -  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra  - Christine Brewer  - Anilda Carrasquillo  - Ruxandra Donose  - Nick Jones  - Norman MacKenzie  - Donald Runnicles  - Eric Owens  - John Tessier  -  Atlanta Symphony Chamber Chorus

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Album Credits

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Mozart: Requiem [Levin Edition] 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As the festivities are being planned for the worldwide celebration of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th Birthday every orchestra is scheduling performances of the master's major works. And what is more fitting an homage to the genius of Mozart than his Requiem KV 626. Though everyone knows Mozart died before completing this masterpiece, we have all accepted the edition completed by Franz Xaver Sussmayr, Mozart's assistant, as the closet possible realization of Mozart's pieces and bits of scoring. But in 1993 Robert V. Levin's scholarly and sensitive edition arrived and it is this fresh edition of the Requiem here recorded.Donald Runnicles conducts the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus is this truly splendid new version of the Requiem. Runnicles' approach to the work is more operatic than most (his fine work with the San Francisco Opera shows) and while there are those that will prefer the 'period instrument and style' performances so readily available on multiple CDs, his approach lends itself to a richly immediate and text appropriate result. The chorus is reduced in size from the well-known Chorus (remnant of Robert Shaw's tenure with these musicians) and sings with complete clarity of pitch and elegant phrasing. They are supported by Runnicles' fine choice of tempi and one of the best sounding orchestras for this Requiem. Runnicles selected a top notch quartet of soloists: Christine Brewer, soprano, proving that she is not only a fine rising Wagnerian but a sensitive Mozartean as well mezzo-soprano Ruxandra Donose from whom we will doubtless be hearing more! John Tessier, tenor and Eric Owens, bass. Each singer shines in solo passages and in the quartet portions form as unified a sound as any on record. This recording will most likely be on the list when the Grammy Awards nominations are made public. It is a beautifully performed, lovely and elegant Requiem - and a fine opportunity for Mozart devotees to hear the Levin edition! Highly Recommended. Grady Harp