Mozart: "Coronation" Mass; Ave Verum Corpus; Exsultate, Jubilate

by St. John's College Choir, CambridgeSt. John's College Choir


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There are many recommendable aspects to this period-instrument, all-male recording of Mozart's "Mass in C major, K. 317 (Coronation)," and "Missa Brevis, K. 192." First is the deployment of the mass sections themselves. It is often pointed out that the sections of a Classical-era mass are not like the movements of a symphony; Mozart wrote these pieces for use in Salzburg's ecclesiastical establishment, and they would have been performed with liturgy and other music in between the individual sections. As conductor Andrew Nethsingha points out, the joyous explosions of sound at the beginnings of the sections of the "Coronation Mass" especially lose their proper impact when preceded by movement finales at roughly the same pitch of intensity. Yet simply performing the work as part of a full Catholic mass doesn't quite put it across either (although there are occasional performances and recording that do just that). Nethsingha opts for a compromise that may not be historically authentic, but is musically very effective: he interpolates Mozart's youthful church sonatas (descendants of the Baroque sonata da chiesa) between the Gloria and Credo, and again between the Credo and Sanctus. This keeps the momentum going without losing the impact of these two large movements. And what momentum there is! Soprano Susan Gritton leads a set of top-notch soloists, with a remarkably textured performance of the sacred aria "Exsultate, jubilate, K. 165," at the end of the program, and Nethsingha gets absolute clarity out of the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, and the St. John's Sinfonia. The sense of controlled enthusiasm in the later pages of the Credo, culminating in Mozart's non-liturgical but apparently deeply felt repetition of the words "Credo in unum Deum" (I believe in one God), has rarely been matched among the dozens of recordings of this mass on the market. Nethsingha shifts gears effectively for the "Missa Brevis," a less splendid but more radical work, and for a lovely example of the motet "Ave verum corpus, K. 618." Chandos engineers extract both precision and richness from the choir's home ground, the St. John's College Cathedral. For buyers wanting the "Coronation" mass with boy singers and historical instruments, this is a choice release.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/27/2012
Label: Chandos
UPC: 0095115078624
catalogNumber: 786
Rank: 159660


  1. Ave verum Corpus, motet for chorus, strings & organ, K. 618
  2. Church sonata No. 7 for 2 violins, bass & organ in F major, K. 224 (K. 241a)
  3. Church sonata No. 1 for 2 violins, bass & organ in E flat major, K. 67 (K. 41h)
  4. Mass No. 15 for vocal soloists, chorus & orchestra in C major ("Coronation"), K. 317
  5. Exsultate, jubilate, motet for soprano & orchestra, K. 165 (K. 158a)
  6. Mass No. 6 for soloists, chorus & orchestra in F major (missa brevis), K. 192 (K. 186f)

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