GRAMOPHONE AWARDS SHORTLIST 2021
Calm splendour: Vox Luminis and the Freiburger Barockconsort shine an expressive light on Biber’s Requiem alongside contemporary rarities
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sedition and, shamefully, his wife and daughter.
There is no proof that the Mass was performed at the time and it has since been known only as an entry in a Florentine library catalogue. Richard Egarr, intrigued, managed to extract the manuscript and have it edited for a performance in October 2019 that might well have been its first, and for this subsequent premiere recording. It’s an imposing work, ranging widely in mood but without the tautness that so characterises Haydn’s late Masses; in terms of language, it sits somewhere between Haydn and a constellation consisting of the likes of Beethoven, Cherubini and even Berlioz. Choral writing alternates with sweetsounding solos and ensembles – especially a charming ‘Benedictus’ – and is not without some well-crafted counterpoint at the traditional points. Perhaps there is little of real depth, although an emotional response is hinted at in the hushed urgency of the ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Agnus Dei’.
Dussek himself could scarcely have hoped for a performance as fine as this one, with the Academy on top form, a well‑drilled choir of 20 clearly in thrall to Egarr’s infectious enthusiasm for the work and four finely matched soloists imparting plenty of personality. The presentation, too, is worthy of the evangelical nature of the project, with a 100-page booklet containing biographical and musicological essays, bespoke artwork, performance photos and facsimiles of the manuscript, not to mention recipes for treats that Dussek might well have consumed – he clearly enjoyed food and liquor, and died, corpulent and gouty, not long after writing the Mass. It’s a fascinating work and an important project, impressively recorded, exquisitely presented and enthusiastically recommended. David Threasher (November 2020)
Haydn Die Schöpfung, HobXXI:2 Anna Lucia Richter sop Maximilian Schmitt ten Florian Boesch bar Bavarian Radio Choir; Il Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini Alpha M b ALPHA567 (100’ • DDD • T/t)
Haydn’s joyous celebration of an idyllic, prelapsarian world seems particularly poignant in an age when our guardianship of the planet is ever more precarious. And joy is the essence of this new recording from Giovanni Antonini, taking time off from his Haydn symphony odyssey. Based on just 12 violins, his lively orchestra is on the small side. Yet I never felt short-changed. With the muted strings conjuring a glassy pianissimo, Chaos has an gramophone.co.uk
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