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Thread: Favorite Mozart Requiem?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Tchaikov6's Avatar
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    Karajan for me. A really beautiful recording, one of my favorites of all time.

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  3. #32
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    Gardiner for the traditional Süssmayr, Martin Pearlman for Robert Levin's completion, and Hogwood for Richard Maunder's version. Overall, the latter recording (Hogwood) is the one I return to the most.

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    My ranking and reviews of ones I've sampled:

    1) Victor de Sabata (1941) – Tempos and dynamics are sometimes eccentric, the singing style is overly operatic, and the recording dates from 1939. So why is this my first choice? One word: gravitas. No other recording reaches the depth of emotion – both the dramatic and the solemn - like this one. De Sabata was one of the greatest conductors of the century – his Tosca with Callas and Verdi Requiem are unmatched – and he brings that skill here to make an emotional impact befitting this great work.

    2) Eugen Jochum (1956) – Almost De Sabata’s match and in tempos and style that are more conventional. My only quibble is a somewhat fast Lacrymosa, but the beauty still comes through. Otherwise it is an interpretation that sounds just right with dedicated singing throughout. Unfortunately the recording quality is below par even for 1950s standards. There are even some extraneous noises, which leads me to believe this is a radio aircheck.

    3) Bruno Walter (1937) – The first ever recording is also one of the best, with sound quality that is quite passable for the period. Walter does not quite plum the dark depths like De Sabata, but his tempos and dynamics are better judged. Beautiful when it needs to be and dramatic as well, this is a gift of a recorded document from a great conductor in his prime.

    4) Bruno Walter (1956, Orfeo) – Dramatic, committed and spirited, many will prefer this later better-recorded live performance from Walter. The soloists are top notch, and Walter provides all the command, dedication and energy for which he is known. I do still find the earlier Walter account slightly more enjoyable for its beauty and nuance, and this may have something to do with the more variable tone of the choir in the later recording.

    5) Neville Marriner (1992) – At last we come to a modern recording which for me qualifies as the best candidate for your one and only Requiem if you take sound quality and conventionality of interpretation into account. Marriner strikes just the right balance in his choice of tempos even if you don’t get the gravitas of the above historic choices or even of a Bernstein (who milks things too much). And yet there is an inspired quality setting it apart from other modern versions. A superbly satisfying reading.

    6) John Eliot Gardiner (1986) – A uniquely exciting and well sung and performed account, as one would expect from these talented forces. Indeed the drama of the Requiem comes across in some ways like never before. As often the case with Gardiner, however, the fast tempos rob the slow movements of their natural solemnity.

    7) Sir Colin Davis (1967) – This recording has always been something of an old standard for this work and deservedly so. The recording has a bit of hiss but is otherwise full, warm and clear. Davis chooses perfect tempi, and the soloists and chorus perform with beauty, incisiveness and dedication. Perhaps there is a slight bit of stateliness compared to Marriner or Gardiner, but Davis compensates with greater power and warmth.

    8) Karl Böhm (1956) – This Philips recording finds Böhm at his most inspired, with a Kyrie that is especially thrilling in its extra power and weight. My only issue with Böhm is a certain inflexibility and lack of nuance that makes his performances sound plodding, even when the tempos are not that especially slow. However this is balanced with great sensitivity and beauty of tone.

    9) Carlo Maria Giulini (1989) – Less firepower in the fast movements than his earlier recording, but this one is special for its dedicated, exquisite beauty and sensitivity. You are pretty much only getting one side of the work here, but that view is sublime enough to be worth the time.

    10) Carlo Maria Giulini (1979) – Though not as inspired as his later recording, this one is more conventional in terms of tempos and has the requisite energy in the faster movements. In fact as an introduction to the work this recording is just about ideal, with excellent singing from both soloists and chorus.

    11) Karl Böhm (1971) – The DG recording is more slow and monumental compared to 15 years earlier on Philips, but there is undeniable beauty, power, and profundity enhanced by the clear, full recording. It only misses the greater liveliness you find in the earlier version.

    12) Leonard Bernstein (1989) – Oh Lenny, if only we could harness your emotion into something more disciplined. This recording is worth hearing for the obvious depth of emotion and intense concentration throughout. Unfortunately the tempos are not just slow, but they meander in such a mannered way that it ultimately robs the music of its communicative power.

    13) Daniel Barenboim (1971) – Well-judged tempos and inspired performers make this a top central recommendation. The Dies Irae is especially fiery.

    14) Sir Colin Davis (2008) – Liveliness and energy are the hallmarks of this performance. The choir lacks body and richness but makes up for it with their vigorous spirit.

    15) Claudio Abbado (1999) – Good modern version if largely unremarkable except the quality of the singers.

    16) Bruno Kittel (1941) – An eccentric old recording, though with some powerful moments and surprisingly well-recorded. Kittel conducted his own eponymous choir here with the Berlin Philharmonic. Incidentally, that same year these forces performed the Requiem in concert under the baton of Furtwängler. If only there were a recording!

  5. #34
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Giulini is good... Hogwood is good... but the first one I ever heard is still my favorite... Corboz and Lisbon, with Elly Amerling, on Erato, which I had as a budget RCA LP, still in print on CD...
    Last edited by philoctetes; Dec-18-2018 at 23:09.

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    Böhm if ever I have to take only one.
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  7. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    My ranking and reviews of ones I've sampled:
    Well, this is wonderful. Thank you!

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  9. #37
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    Here's my overview of personal favorites (& preferences):

    A. Period versions:

    Like others on this thread, William Christie's Erato recording of the Mozart Requiem is one of my 'go-to' CDs, and if I were pressed to pick a single favorite period version, I'd be strongly inclined to make it my first choice among period recordings of the Requiem (that I know). In a side by side comparison to Gardiner's well regarded Philips recording, for example, I find Christie's reading to be preferable by a good margin. He is arguably the finest Mozart conductor today. As for his edition, Christie used the Süssmayr completion:


    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Panzar...mozart+requiem

    However, there are four other period Requiems that I enjoy equally or nearly as much (each for different reasons). They are:

    (1) Christopher Hogwood's 1983 Requiem on L'Oiseau Lyre makes an excellent complimentary choice. He used the C.R.F. Maunder edition that sought to strip away all of Josef Von Eybler & Franz Xaver Süssmayr contributions and revise the orchestration according to Mozart's own sketches & style during his late period, while eliminating the Sanctus, Osanna, & Benedictus movements as not containing any genuine Mozart (though Robert Levin argues otherwise, claiming that there is some authentic Mozart in these movements). The Lacrimosa is largely reworked, with Maunder using material from the Introit. Most interestingly, he uses a rediscovered Mozart sketch for The Amen section of the Lacrimosa. Basically, Maunder takes the view that Süssmayr was no Mozart.

    The problem with Maunder's completion is that we know Mozart was desperate to finish his Requiem in his last days, and worked feverishly to do so on his death bed, which means that we shouldn't rule out the possibility that when he became too ill to write anything down in his own hand, that he may have dictated parts of the Requiem to his pupil Süssmayr--such as parts of the Agnus Dei for instance. It is known that in his final days Mozart did leave detailed instructions to Sussmayr as to how the Requiem should be completed after his death. So, it's entirely possible that some last minute dictation took place between Mozart & his pupil that didn't end up in the existing sketches (or existed in fragments that Süssmayr later threw out, which were based upon Mozart's instructions). For example, it should be pointed out that nothing in Süssmayr's own church music prepares us for the high quality of his completion of the Agnus Dei. The other problem with getting rid of Süssmayr's contributions is that it leaves us with a Mass that is more noticeably unfinished and incomplete: https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...mozart+requiem



    2. Nikolaus Harnoncourt's 2nd recording on hybrid SACD-DSD, with the Concentus Musicus Wien, is another period performance that I wouldn't want to be without. Harnoncourt's live performance uses the Beyer edition of the Süssmayr completion, though the Lacrimosa is quite different from the Süssmayr edition. Beethoven called the Requiem "a wild and terrible" work, and indeed Harnoncourt brings out the dramatic (& dynamic) extremes in the music better than most. In addition, it helps that the sound engineering is of a state of the art audiophile quality:



    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-SCHAFE...=UTF8&qid=&sr=
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...C1MFBWCPXFKPYB

    3. Ton Koopman's live Erato recording is another intensely dramatic version of the Requiem. It gets my vote for the most underrated period recording of the work. While it's true that Koopman presents an "intimate, unfussy, unpretentious reading" according to Gramophone, there is nevertheless a 'hellfire and brimstone' quality to his reading that is impressive. That is partly due to Koopman's nimble chamber orchestra & choir (compared to 'big band' versions), as his smaller forces allow the listener to hear the entire score with an unusual degree of rhythmic clarity & transparency. The trumpets & drums, for instance, are more audible & thrilling in the Dies irae than in most other versions. As for the soloists, soprano Barbara Schlick is a favorite of mine in the "Recordare", & elsewhere. Koopman uses the Sussmayr edition, & Erato provides excellent sound quality.



    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...+requiem+erato
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...mozart+requiem

    4. I've also enjoyed the Mozart Requiem recording by the Collegium Cartusianum Köln, conducted by Peter Neumann, which can be bought individually, or in an inexpensive EMI box set, which IMO is preferable to Harnoncourt's Mozart sacred music box set on Teldec (though not as complete): https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Mass...=peter+neumann. In my view, Neumann is an underrated conductor in Mozart's sacred music, and his Requiem is one of the finest on record, IMO (& easy to underestimate). Neumann used the Süssmayr completion:



    5. For those looking to understand a fuller range of ideas about how Mozart's Requiem should be completed, it's valuable to hear a recording that uses the renowned Mozart & Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon edition of the Requiem, as well. Basically, Robbins Landon sought to retain Josef Von Eybler's abandoned first reconstructions of the earlier parts of the Requiem, in the belief that Eybler (who was Constanza Mozart's first choice to complete the Requiem before Süssmayr) was a more accomplished, inventive composer than Sussmayr, while also using Sussmayr's later contributions. (By the way, Masaaki Suzuki uses a newly commissioned edition that seeks to do the same, for his recent BIS recording, but it isn't Robbins Landon's edition.) However, I don't have a strong preference among recordings of the Robbins Landon edition. Bruno Weil and Tafelmusik were, I believe, the first to use this edition, and it's a good recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPsS...FlpVun3l3KRtgn.

    6. It's also worth hearing a recording of scholar/musician Robert Levin's well regarded edition of the Requiem, too, but again, I'm not sure which recording is most ideal. However, Martin Pearlman & Boston Baroque's performance of the Levin edition is very good, on period instruments, while Sir Charles Mackerras & the Scottish Chamber Orchestra make an excellent choice on modern instruments:

    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...mozart+requiem
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...mozart+requiem

    I've not heard Frans Bruggen's live Requiem from Tokyo on the Glossa label, nor do I know what edition he used:

    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie.../dp/B0035WARTE
    http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/...album_id=35025

    I don't know the Requiem recordings by Suzuki, Jacobs, Currentzis, or Butt's reconstruction of the premiere performance, either. Nor can I comment on Herreweghe's recording, since I haven't listened to it in ages (which may tell you something), though it has generally received favorable reviews.

    B. Modern instrument versions:

    Among versions of the Requiem performed on modern instruments, the 1980s Philips recording by conductor Peter Schreier & the Staatskapelle Dresden is excellent, and would be my first pick. The Staatskapelle is an orchestra that excels in Mozart, and the Leipzig Radio Choir are likewise very fine. Schreier used Sussmayr's completion, and his soloists are excellent, especially Margaret Price & Theo Adam. One of the aspects that I most like about Schreier's performance is that he exhibits a truer understanding of 18th century performing style (& practices) than the majority of non-HIP conductors on record, especially in comparison to the 'old school' conductors. It's a very beautiful performance, & well recorded by the Philips engineers:

    https://www.amazon.com/Requiem-SCHMI.../dp/B00005IB5E

    [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWZR...oY3jD45CW5t0cS

    Among HIP versions on modern instruments, I'd also recommend Sir Charles Mackerras' version with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Linn hybrid SACD (which, as mentioned, used the Levin edition). As with Schreier, I find Mackerras's version is preferable to the super slow 'old school' performances, which drag the music by performing the score in a misguided & wildly distorted post-Romantic style that Mozart wouldn't have recognized (or likely intended): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tijOIC8p71U

    Finally, one of my biggest grievances with performances of Mozart's Requiem is that certain conductors take a substantial pause between the Kyrie and Dies irae movements. IMO, the latter movement works far better when the audience is led to believe that the Kyrie movement has ended, and then shockingly and most startlingly, the conductor and orchestra launch straight away into the Die irae, taking only the slightest pause between the two movements. It works much better that way in concert, at least from my experience. On the other hand, when a conductor takes a lengthy pause between the two movements, in order for the audience to fully cough out, and the musicians to get a breather in order to gather themselves before for the next movement, it only deflates the impact of opening of the Dies irae, IMO. Some conductors understand this, some don't (or if they do the record companies have separated the two movements with a pause between the CD tracks). Personally, I can't imagine that Mozart didn't want the two movements to be performed as virtually one continuous movement, with only a brief pause taken prior to the Dies irae. I expect he would have mischievously enjoyed seeing the audience think that the Kyrie was coming to an end, with the expectation that they could now sit back in their seats and relax before the next movement, & then bam!, the choir launches into the terrifying Dies irae. It's one of the most riveting, ingenious, & brilliant movements in music history, so it has to start right, IMO, and not come after the audience and musicians have taken a good long rest after the Kyrie ends. Here Maris Jansons conducts the two movements in continuity, the way that I believe Mozart imagined it (the Dies irae starts at 38:00, for anyone that wishes to go directly to the transition, though it's a fine performance... I expect you'll need to turn up the volume to better get the effect, as of course it's a lot more impactful in the concert hall than on a tiny You Tube screen): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHnJBiXMXfU. (Peter Neumann does the same, on the above YT clip.)

    My five cents.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Dec-19-2018 at 19:46.

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  11. #38
    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    This one:
    Mozart - Requiem - Marriner.jpg

    It's one of my Desert Island Discs that I would never want to be without...

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    Although he was more known for his Bach, and the sound quality is nothing to write home about, Richter's version is probably the most emotionally intense I've ever heard. It's not overly famous and I just got it when I got a Karl Richter boxed set and was very pleasantly surprised to find that I had a new favourite recording of Mozart's Requiem.
    MozartRequiem.jpg

  13. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    Here's my overview of personal favorites (& preferences):

    My five cents.
    You can have another five cents from me! Those among your recommendations that I know (among them I know Hogwood, Harnoncourt and Shreier well) would be high in my list, too.

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    Senior Member stomanek's Avatar
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    The problem with Maunder's completion is that we know Mozart was desperate to finish his Requiem in his last days, and worked feverishly to do so on his death bed, which means that we shouldn't rule out the possibility that when he became too ill to write anything down in his own hand, that he may have dictated parts of the Requiem to his pupil Süssmayr--such as parts of the Agnus Dei for instance. It is known that in his final days Mozart did leave detailed instructions to Sussmayr as to how the Requiem should be completed after his death. So, it's entirely possible that some last minute dictation took place between Mozart & his pupil that didn't end up in the existing sketches (or existed in fragments that Süssmayr later threw out, which were based upon Mozart's instructions). For example, it should be pointed out that nothing in Süssmayr's own church music prepares us for the high quality of his completion of the Agnus Dei. The other problem with getting rid of Süssmayr's contributions is that it leaves us with a Mass that is more noticeably unfinished and incomplete:

    I didnt like the Hogwood recording - it is ambitious but as you point out - the three mvts Sussmayr claims to have composed all by himself may well contain some genuine Mozart. The Agnus Dei is a little too good to have been the work of a student composer who makes scoring errors. The Benedictus too has some lovely passages. The Sanctus is inferior and this may be Sussmayr's true contribution. We also cant discount that Mozart had the music in his head but not well enough to set down - he may have hummed out some of the parts. But why instruct Sussmayr how to complete the requiem when he didnt even regard him well as a talent. Unsatisfactory as it is I think we have to take the Sussmayr completion as the best performing edition extant.

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  17. #42
    Senior Member Machiavel's Avatar
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    Any thoughts on John Butt intimate version. Worth the price????
    ¨Life in every breathe¨

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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    I will have to have a listen to the Suzuki one. It includes the amen fugue, does it not? My current favourite is Norrington's reading of the Druce completion. I think Druce has managed to perfectly transition from the lacrimosa to the amen better than any other completion I've heard which includes the amen. I'm not so much of a fan of the Sußmayr version, but out of those I'd just say that Gardiner and Hogwood are good enough for me.
    I bought the Bohm LP (mono) version in 1958 and fell in love with this wonderful music. I suppose first impressions make the strongest feelings as they also include the time and place and circumstances of the purchase and first listening. I have read Maunder's reasoning for leaving out Sussmar's completion but as one of my favourite tracks is Sussmayr's Benedictus with the sublime Teresa Stich-Randall soaring into the celestial stratosphere, his is not one that satisfies. Does that mean I don’t have much musical discernment? I love everything written by Mozart, Beethoven and all the Viennese classical composers as well as many more modern and recent ones. However, I haven’t heard many others so I'll have to try some more starting with Suzuki and Shaw (who is good in Schubert Masses, incidenally) but no version has moved me to quite the same extent. I know it's too slow by later standards/opinions but its atmosphere is grand and heart-touching.

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  20. #44
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josquin13 View Post
    (1) Christopher Hogwood's 1983 Requiem on L'Oiseau Lyre makes an excellent complimentary choice. He used the C.R.F. Maunder edition that sought to strip away all of Josef Von Eybler & Franz Xaver Süssmayr contributions and revise the orchestration according to Mozart's own sketches & style during his late period, while eliminating the Sanctus, Osanna, & Benedictus movements as not containing any genuine Mozart (though Robert Levin argues otherwise, claiming that there is some authentic Mozart in these movements). The Lacrimosa is largely reworked, with Maunder using material from the Introit. Most interestingly, he uses a rediscovered Mozart sketch for The Amen section of the Lacrimosa. Basically, Maunder takes the view that Süssmayr was no Mozart.

    The problem with Maunder's completion is that we know Mozart was desperate to finish his Requiem in his last days, and worked feverishly to do so on his death bed, which means that we shouldn't rule out the possibility that when he became too ill to write anything down in his own hand, that he may have dictated parts of the Requiem to his pupil Süssmayr--such as parts of the Agnus Dei for instance. It is known that in his final days Mozart did leave detailed instructions to Sussmayr as to how the Requiem should be completed after his death. So, it's entirely possible that some last minute dictation took place between Mozart & his pupil that didn't end up in the existing sketches (or existed in fragments that Süssmayr later threw out, which were based upon Mozart's instructions). For example, it should be pointed out that nothing in Süssmayr's own church music prepares us for the high quality of his completion of the Agnus Dei. The other problem with getting rid of Süssmayr's contributions is that it leaves us with a Mass that is more noticeably unfinished and incomplete: https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Requie...mozart+requiem
    f. Lacrimosa

    Ray Robinson, the music scholar and president (from 1969 to 1987) of the Westminster Choir College, suggests that Süssmayr used materials from Credo of one of Mozart's earlier masses, Mass in C major, K. 220 "Sparrow" in completing this movement.




    VII. Agnus Dei

    According to the musicologist Simon P. Keefe, Süssmayr likely referenced one of Mozart's earlier masses, Mass in C major, K. 220 "Sparrow" in completing this movement.




    I also find Levin's completion of the Amen fugue similar to Mozart's earlier works in certain parts:

    https://youtu.be/sGg2AwyNZA4?t=1382

    https://youtu.be/u5dGgwydwG4?t=177

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