Very fine Requiem, but...,
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This review is from: Mozart: Requiem, Hommage a Chopin [DVD] (DVD)
Chopin is said to have asked that Mozart’s Requiem Mass be performed at his funeral. He died on 17 October 1849. The DVD under review documents a mass celebrated on 17 October 2010 at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw in commemoration of the anniversary of Chopin’s death. Embedded in the liturgy of the mass (read in Latin and in Polish) is the performance of Mozart’s Requiem by Philippe Herreweghe, a quartet of outstanding soloists, the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and two excellent choirs. If you are primarily interested in Mozart and want to hear the requiem without liturgical interpolations, you will have to make your way to the respective submenu and then choose “play all” at its bottom. This took me a while to figure out, so be forewarned. You may conclude from the above that this performance of the Requiem (like Solti’s musically flawed 1991 Vienna production) is a stop-and-go enterprise and thus does not have the natural continuity the music requires. This is obvious even in the pasted-together track where there are some awkward moments at the beginning of movements. Herreweghe was apparently not altogether privy to the order of proceedings: he at times looks for guidance to the person standing behind him who would indicate whether the music was to continue or was to be interrupted by parts of the liturgy. I assume a more proficient recording/cutting team could have made the performance appear more seamless.
As a performance – and given the fact that it could not flow in its natural momentum – it is still very good. Herreweghe uses the Beyer edition and he has his period instrument musicians, choristers and soloists on their collective toes throughout the score. In the Requiem’s more intimate moments, I would have wished for a bit more warmth and tenderness, occasionally some slower tempi. On the other hand, the tutti sections shine out with grandeur and refinement. Perhaps it was the ceremonial occasion which lent a faint chill to this interpretation. But perhaps it does indeed reflect Herreweghe’s most recent thoughts on the music as well. If you can live with the problems mentioned above and are looking for a DVD recording in good (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) sound and very fair video, this might be your choice. Alas, there are no other recent DVD recordings of this masterpiece and Gardiner’s as well as Bernstein’s fine renditions show their age in both video and audio.