Franz von Suppè, known for light opera and theater music, reworked the traditional mass with a creative, refreshing format more reflective of the 19th Century style of moving voices and harmonies. It is recorded by Lords of the Chords, European singers who blend their voices effortlessly. Soloists Schreiber, Jensen, and Niederberger are clear and melodic.
Von Suppè grew up with a diverse background from Dalmatia to Vienna and across occupations, making a career for himself in Vienna with music now considered "light". The booklet describing his background and compositions is very helpful. The singers sound like they are singing for fun, enjoying the Latin Mass. The title Lords of the Chords seems less serious, too--even so, the group is skilled, and the music finely blended.
The ease of presentation leads to the notion that an amateur men's chorus could well perform this Mass, partially or in its entirety. While quite professional, several sections bring to mind a "barbershop" sound with running accompaniment and familiar harmonies. The Latin text alongside the German translation with the English translation at the end reminds us that the audience is wider than the American market.
The organ and organist are stellar. The accompaniment never intrudes into the vocal performance, but provides the structure for the choir. The flutes are rich and warm; a bright stop is added only sparingly. An orchestra would be impressive, but von Suppè wrote the accompaniment for organ alone, and Mr. Wollenschläger provides the precise balance required for this Mass. His performance has the listener ready for another opportunity to hear more of this organ and his CD performances, the most recent of which led to his 2010 award as Performer of the Year.