Mozart: Requiem

Mozart: Requiem

by René Jacobs


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When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died on December 5, 1791, he left his "Requiem in D minor" unfinished, though according to Constanze Mozart, he wrote down explicit instructions for its completion, first attempted by Joseph Eybler, but eventually undertaken by Franz Xaver Süssmayr. While Süssmayr's completion has been the standard performing edition for over two centuries, there have been several scholars who have criticized his labored counterpoint and clumsy orchestration, and most revisions include substantial changes of material. The 2016 revision by Pierre-Henri Dutron, which René Jacobs performs here with the Freiburger Barockorchester, includes noticeable changes throughout, particularly from the ending of the Lacrimosa onward, and a major reworking of counterpoint and orchestration in the Sanctus, the Benedictus, and the Hosanna fugues. In his historically informed interpretation, Jacobs favors a lean orchestral texture and brisk tempos, and the orchestra plays with clear sonorities, preventing any muddiness in the basset horns and bassoons. The quartet of soprano Sophie Karthäuser, alto Marie-Claude Chappuis, tenor Maximilian Schmitt, and bass Johannes Weisser is well-blended and evenly balanced in the Tuba mirum, the Recordare, and the Hostias, and the RIAS Kammerchor provides transparent lines with crisp diction, making the Latin text easy to follow. Among the different completions of the Requiem, Dutron's version may seem rather conservative, for he avoids wholesale recomposition of movements, and doesn't incorporate the Amen fugue fragment, which is a feature of completions by Richard Maunder, Duncan Druce, and Robert Levin. Instead, Dutron's version is a creative refinement of Süssmayr's completion, without radical changes to the structure or content of Mozart's final masterpiece.

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