Rias Kammerchor, Frieberger Barockorchester, René Jacobs - Mozart Requiem: Süssmayr, Dutron Completion 2016

Published Thursday 11th January 2018
Rias Kammerchor, Frieberger Barockorchester, René Jacobs - Mozart Requiem: Süssmayr, Dutron Completion 2016
Rias Kammerchor, Frieberger Barockorchester, René Jacobs  - Mozart Requiem: Süssmayr, Dutron Completion 2016

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMM902291

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

1791 was a busy year for Mozart. Already working on 'Die Zauberflöte' and facing a deadline to deliver 'La Clemenza di Tito' he received a commission for a Requiem. The colourful story of what happened next is well known. Mozart's untimely death left his Requiem unfinished and his widow in debt. After several composers were approached, the work was completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, a copyist and composer who had worked with Mozart on some of his recent opera commissions. Over time Süssmayr's version was accepted as the closest to Mozart's intentions, but questions remained and increasingly scholarly opinion was presented as fact. Let it be said that, at this distance, we will never know what Mozart had in mind if, indeed, he had even begun work on the unfinished sections. Yes, this is my opinion but unless concrete evidence is uncovered in the form of, say, a previously unknown manuscript, opinion is all we can have. In 2016, a French violinist and composer, Pierre-Henri Dutron, persuaded René Jacobs to perform his own revision of Süssmayr's Requiem completion. This new version was performed for audiences in a series of concerts around Europe and was met with sufficient acclaim to justify a recording. Of course the critics are divided. Is this Mozart, Süssmayr or Dutron? Does it matter? The music on the disc is well worth hearing but if the unanswerable questions as to whose work it actually is bother you then I suggest you stick to your preferred recording - of which there are more than a few on the market. I tried to listen to the CD with an open mind and enjoyed it. Jacobs keeps things moving and I like his less is more approach with a relatively small choir and orchestra. Then I read the copious liner notes complete with graph showing "respective contributions of the different authors of the 'Requiem' in this new recorded version, shown from two points of view" plus a technical note on the differences in recording for CD and vinyl. What would Mozart make of it all? Once he had checked his royalties I should think - in my opinion, anyway - that he would be wondering what all the fuss was about. He would be pleased if you enjoyed this version and if you don't then why not make your own? If you are a keen Mozartian you need to hear Dutron and Jacob's version, even if you then decide that you never want to hear it again. If Mozart's Requiem is new to you this is no bad place to start so long as you listen to the music and take the notes with the proverbial pinch of salt but do not think that what you are getting is either the first or the last word on the subject. Just listen to the music and you won't be disappointed.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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