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MOZART "Requiem Realisations" (KGS)

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Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013 5:00 am

If you are a Mozart Requiem groupie — and there are many — this new interpretation, with Stephen Cleobury conducting the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Academy of Ancient Music, is not likely to supplant your favorite recorded version, which probably is conducted by John Eliot Gardiner (superb) or perhaps William Christie 
(emotive), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (questing), or Neville Marriner 
(elegant). Cleobury’s reading is quite fine, to be sure, though the choral timbre of boy trebles may not be one’s ideal for this piece, and soprano soloist Elin Manahan Thomas’ tonal approximation of a boy soprano is ultimately not satisfying. Mozart left expanses of this piece unfinished at his death, in 1791, and, in the ensuing 222 years, many scholars and composers have proposed different solutions about how to fill in the blanks. Cleobury here uses the standard completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, a not terribly talented Mozart pupil who was present as his teacher struggled to write this final composition. What sets this release apart is that Cleobury appends five sections of the work in completions put forward by other figures — Richard Maunder, Franz Beyer, Duncan Druce, Robert Levin, and Michael Finnissy. The last of these, a noted modern composer, imagines what the Lacrimosa might have sounded like if Mozart had lived into the age of Rossinian bel canto. A second CD, an excellent hour-plus lecture on the work’s history, with musical illustrations, provides added value.

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