- Requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, K. 626
Even though Franz Xaver Süssmayer's 1792 completion of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's unfinished "Requiem in D minor, K. 626," is viewed by many as the standard performing version, a handful of scholars have attempted alternative versions with varying amounts of recomposition and new orchestration. The 1972 revision by Franz Beyer, which is used in this fantastic recording by Georg Christoph Biller, the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra, is based substantially on Süssmayer's work, but it is subtly improved through more fluid counterpoint, smoother harmonic progressions, and fuller orchestration -- in short, it sounds quite familiar to anyone who knows traditional recordings of the "Requiem," only better, and offers no jarring surprises or controversial additions to make the listener question this performance's authenticity. If Süssmayer's efforts were inept, as his critics have contended, then Beyer keeps what works and gives the "Requiem" a more finished presentation, particularly in the conclusion of the "Lacrimosa" and in the remaining movements. This rather elegant version is complemented by the polished singing of the vocalists and chorus, and the crisply rhythmic playing of the orchestra, so if listeners are skeptical of the merits of Beyer's approach, they at least have an exceptional performance to consider. The musicians play in a period style, if not on period instruments, and the brisk tempos and clear tone colors make this recording feel in every way like an authentic re-creation. Rondeau's reproduction is transparent and bright, so listeners who prefer darker, richer colors in their Requiems should be advised accordingly.