- Miserere in C minor
- Requiem in C major
Johann Adolf Hasse was perhaps the most famous composer of the middle 18th century, with a long career that made him famous all over Europe. His main field of activity was the stylized opera seria, which has been slow to find revivals. But Hasse's choral music has found a wider listenerhip, and this pairing, representing different phases of the composer's career, is a welcome addition to the Hasse discography. Perhaps the more attractive of the two pieces is the "Miserere in C minor," first performed probably in 1730 or 1731 by the choir of the Ospedale degli Incurabili in Venice. This was similar to the milieu in which Antonio Vivaldi worked, and indeed Hasse's "Miserere," with several gorgeous arias interspersed among lightly contrapuntal choral movements, would make an ideal pairing to spice up a performance of Vivaldi's "Gloria in D major, RV 589," with something less well known. The "Requiem in C major" was written for the state funeral of Hasse's patron, the Dresden Elector Frederick Augustus II, in 1763, and it is as public a work as Mozart's "Requiem in D minor, K. 626," is an inward one. It consists of a series of short choral bursts with several longer arias, giving it a processional quality. It's not instantly compelling, but the work is unlike any other Classical-period choral setting. There are 23 movements in all, and despite the subject matter the prevailing mood is bright (listen to the breezy Sanctus and Osanna sections, tracks 18 and 20), darkening only for the Lacrimosa and a few other sections. The Requiem aeternam, which is brought back to round out the work, is splendid and festive. Unlike some of Hasse's other choral music, there is little operatic influence. Both here and in the Miserere, however, the soloists on this recording are extraordinary, with soprano Johanna Winkel possessing a rare soaring quality and alto Wiebke Lehmkuhl singing with equal parts richness and clarity. The Dresden Chamber Choir and Dresden Baroque Orchestra are spot-on intonationally, and the Carus engineering team nails it in an ideal sonic environment, the Ev. St Marienkirche in Marienberg. With the nearly ideal performances, this can be recommended for anyone interested in Classical-period choral literature.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For whatever reason, I¿m aware of fewer Requiem Masses from the Baroque than from any other period. Not only did Johan Adolf Hasse write two of them¿for titled patrons who died within months of each other--both are in major keys! The opening section¿s stately and measured pace at once evokes the image of a casket being ceremoniously brought into the church, and it is repeated exactly at the end. (In between are some lovely, and not particularly gloomy, movements.) No fewer than six soloists are deployed in various combinations, and two sections are sung only by the men of the chorus. The companion piece on the disc is a setting of one of the penitential psalms, though again a somber beginning gives way to more hopeful music. Except for one of the altos (and I can¿t tell which one because the booklet is not clear about who sings what), I liked the young team of soloists, and the orchestra and choir are fine. The director¿s introductory essay says the recording is live, but there¿s no applause or any other distracting sounds. Notes and texts in English.