Mass in C minor, K427 [completed by Louis Langrée]
Requiem, K626 [completed by Süssmayr, Eybler, and Langrée]
Joélle Harvey (soprano), Cecelia Hall (mezzo-soprano), Alek Shrader (tenor) & Christian Van Horn (bass-baritone)
Concert Chorale of New York
Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra
Reviewed by: Christopher Browner
Reviewed: 19 August, 2016
Venue: David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City
Louis Langrée’s pairing of the C-minor Mass and the Requiem for this Mostly Mozart concert belies the popular conception – shaped to an extent by Miloš Forman’s film Amadeus – that the composer heard fully-formed works in his mind and simply jotted them down. Mozart didn’t complete either of these sacred works and there have been numerous attempts to make these scores performable. Both pieces were presented here with Langrée’s editorial input, adding to Franz Xaver Süssmayr and Joseph Eybler’s edition of the Requiem; both men were contemporaries of Mozart.
Under Langrée, singers and players were most effective when rendering such as the Mass’s ‘Sanctus’ and the Requiem’s ‘Dies irae’. Although David Geffen Hall’s cavernous auditorium swallowed some of the performers’ intensity, especially during the more intimate sections, these were taut interpretations marred by only a few flaws of coordination.
In both works, Mozart’s most heart-rending and celestial music is given to the soprano, here Joélle Harvey. She floated angelic high notes, albeit occasionally overpowered by the others. Mezzo Cecelia Hall (effectively the second soprano in K427) brought a husky tone to her solos and blended nicely with Harvey. Alek Shrader came to prominence in bel canto repertoire, but here he offered darker, more reserved singing that kept with the solemn dignity of Mozart’s music, and Christian Van Horn’s deep bass-baritone lent further weight and gravitas to proceedings.
For all the incompleteness of this music, and the input of others to make it whole, Mozart’s genius remains evident in his gripping treatment of such divine subject matter.