Mozart: Mass in C minor (CD review)
The Mass in C minor is another liturgical work that Mozart didn't finish. You can understand his not finishing the Requiem; he died. But it is unclear why in the Mass in C, written some eight years before his death, he only completed the "Kyrie," the "Gloria," and parts of the "Credo," "Sanctus," and "Benedictus."
In any case, conductor Louis Langree says that of the many editions of the Mass completed by other people, he was satisfied with none, so he did his own completion, which we have here. I'm sure it is as good as any. Langree's orchestra is relatively small, around forty players, probably about the size that would have performed in Mozart's day, and his soloists and choir are top notch.
Mozart's Mass in C minor is more operatic than we might expect from a church piece, and it lends itself nicely to repeat listening, grand and imposing on the one hand, intimate and touching on the other. However, Langree does take many segments of the work at a rather fast pace, diminishing somewhat the overall drama of the music and substituting for it a more fleeting kind of excitement. His interpretation certainly has its thrilling moments, but with alternative readings by Gardiner (Philips), Herrewighe (Harmonia Mundi), and others, I'm not sure I would want it as my only account.
The 2006 Virgin recording, made in Paris, is warm and smooth but with little or no sense of presence. A quick comparison to Philippe Herrewighe's 1992 French recording reveals the Herrewighe rendering sounding more detailed, more dimensional, more natural, and more realistic, although a touch edgier at the high end. While I doubt that anyone would object to the Virgin sonics on the Langree recording, I prefer a better sense of occasion.
William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer
Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.
The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.