Bernius, Frieder

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsRelease NotesReviews
Soprano: Vasiljka Jezovsek
Alto: Claudia Schubert
Tenor: Marcus Ullmann
Bass-Baritone: Michael Volle

Choir: Stuttgart Chamber Choir
Orchestra: Stuttgart Baroque Ensemble
Conductor: Frieder Bernius

Date: November 12, 1999
Venue: Stuttgarter Liederhalle, Beethovensaal
Live Recording

Label: Carus
Cat No.: 83.207
Released: 2000
Frieder Bernius offers an interpretation at the highest artistic level of Mozart’s final work. He recorded the 1981 version of the Requiem by Franz Beyer, in which the additions by Franz Xaver Süssmayr are left largely intact. However, the instrumentation of the final movements has been improved. The present recording has won international acclaim at the highest level in the form of the Diapason d’Or as the best choral recording of the year 2003. “One hears many things as if for the first time. On top of everything, the sound quality of the live recording made in the Stuttgarter Liederhalle is fantastic.”
Frieder Bernius and his Stuttgart forces weigh in with one of the finer Mozart Requiems in a very crowded field–and to ensure this performance’s relative exclusivity, it’s one of only a handful of recordings that use the edition by Franz Beyer, an intelligent and persuasive 1971 effort to correct “obvious textural errors” and some decidedly un-Mozartian features in the orchestration attributable to Franz Süssmayr, Mozart’s pupil/assistant who completed the work after the master’s death. This live concert performance from 1999 offers well-set tempos (including a vigorous Kyrie fugue), infectious rhythmic energy from both chorus and orchestra, robust, precise, musically compelling choral singing, a first rate quartet of soloists–and, especially considering its concert-performance setting, impressively detailed and vibrant sonics. The CD also features informative notes by Beyer himself.

Neville Marriner’s classic recording from 1977 (the one used for parts of the Amadeus soundtrack) doesn’t have quite the depth or dynamic range of this Carus disc, and in comparison the Kyrie feels a bit too methodical, but it remains a strong first choice owing to its keen sense of the work’s drama and its inspired, committed singing and orchestral playing. Another Beyer-edition performance, a 1989 recording by Franz Welser-Möst and the London Philharmonic and Choir (EMI) is a good alternative with generally fine sound and solid music-making, suffering only from some interpretive lapses (over-exuberant soloists in the “Tuba mirum”, for example). Comparisons aside, if you’re looking either for a reference copy or a supplement to your existing Requiem recordings, you’ll save yourself a bundle of trouble (and potential disappointment) by simply choosing this one from among the multitudes of clamoring contenders.
David Vernier, Classics Today (Artistic Quality: 9, Sound Quality: 9)