A full-bloodied Mozart and Süssmayr

Mozart and his pupil Süssmayr's Requiems are outstanding in the hands - and voices - of the St Olaf Choir and St Paul Chamber Orchestra

Composer: Mozart, Süssmayr
Repertoire: Requiems
Artists: Jette, Larmore, Taylor, Owens; St Olaf Choir; St Paul CO/Delfs Armstrong
Rating:  5/5 
Genre: Vocal/Chamber
Label: Onyx 4004

Although this disc attracts the eye for its inclusion of the German-language Requiem by Mozart’s pupil Süssmayr, it holds the ear with what amounts to a heartfelt, unashamedly romantic reading of the Requiem he helped finish. Andreas Delfs allows Mozart’s work time to breathe, drawing terrifically committed singing from the outstanding college students of the St Olaf Choir. This is a performance driven by an irresistible blend of preparatory care, attention to phrasing, and poise. The Lachrimosa, for example, moves by virtue of emotional nuance rather than unrelenting sentimentality; likewise, the Hostias leaves its mark by highlighting subtle contrasts. The soloists complement this full-blooded interpretation, where vibrato is clearly regarded as a legitimate, even essential expressive requirement. Süssmayr’s Requiem, retrieved from the Upper Austrian monastery where the composer spent most of his life, receives a fine first recorded performance under the direction of the St Olaf choir master, Anton Armstrong. Its style has more of the happy peasant feel about it than one might expect of a Mass for the Dead. The contrast with Mozart’s work could not be more sharply drawn. Strongly recommended.  

Like this? Try this… Michael Haydn: Requiem (The King’s Consort/Robert King) Hyperion CDA67510