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Two Mozart Masses

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Mozart, Große Messe in C Minor / Requiem Mass, A. Auger, T. Moser, T. Quasthoff, Kölner Rundfunkchor and Sinfonie-Orchester, G. Bertini

(re-released July 29, 2008)
Phoenix Edition CD 116

Online scores:
K. 427 | K. 626
Phoenix Edition has re-released these two live radio broadcasts from Cologne, featuring what is now known as the musical forces of the Westdeutschen Runkfunks (WDR) Köln. The two performances are Mozart's Große Messe in C minor, K. 427 (from May 31, 1986), and his Requiem Mass, K. 626 (May 18, 1991), both under the baton of the Israeli conductor Gary Bertini (who died in 2005), the group's principal conductor from 1983 to 1991. The sound takes me back to those days, participating in performances not that unlike these, in a vast chorus of students and community volunteers. Big lumbering orchestra, shrieking chorus in untold numbers. A few years later, I heard my first recordings by Christopher Hogwood and John Eliot Gardiner and got interested in the early Baroque, and this kind of recording started to sound ridiculous.

So a general recommendation of this recording cannot be given, but some of the singing is extraordinary. Arleen Auger's "Christe eleison" (in K. 427) is one of the most beautiful I have ever heard, an expansive, buttery voice but somehow light and precise enough to hit the target with laser-like accuracy. Her "Et incarnatus est" is also lovely, with some breath-taking leaps from low to high, although the sound quality does not do her justice. Among the other noteworthy voices, Thomas Moser is an extravagance on the tiny tenor part of the C minor Mass, and Thomas Quasthoff brings a slightly less rounded version of his exceptional voice to the Requiem ("Tuba mirum").

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