Brüggen, Frans

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsRelease NotesReviews
Soprano: Mona Julsrud
Mezzo-Soprano: Wilke te Brummelstroete
Tenor: Zeger Vandersteene
Bass: Jelle Draijer

Choir: Netherlands Chamber Choir
Orchestra: Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century
Conductor: Frans Brüggen

Date: March 20, 1998
Venue: Metropolitan Art Space, Tokyo, Japan
Live Recording

Label: Glossa
Cat No.: 921105
Released: January 5, 1999
Much is known about the special and particular circumstances surrounding the composition of Mozart’s Requiem. 1791 was a tumultuous year, and before Mozart’s life was cut short at the start of December he had composed, among other works, Die Zauberflöte, La Clemenza di Tito, the Clarinet Concerto and evidently this Requiem, although it was left in an unfinished state. If the mist and mystery surrounding both the creation of the Requiem and Mozart’s death have been lifting in recent times, a certain myth still persists… Complete with a new design Glossa reinstates into the catalogue now a recording which typifies the label’s endeavours as well as being a memorable reflection of the artistry of the Orchestra of the 18th Century and of its director Frans Brüggen. An extended and beautiful introduction to the principal work is created by performances of the Maurerische Trauermusik and the Adagio for two clarinets and three basset horns, before Brüggen directs a startling and impressive reading of the Requiem – which includes the Introit, Tract and the Offertory sung in plainchant – which has become one of the reference versions of this work. The Metropolitan Space of Tokyo surely experienced an occasion of true magic back in March 1998 which was perfectly captured by the NHK Television microphones and which now can be enjoyed once more.
This is the fourth disc produced by The Grand Tour for Glossa, but the first one I have seen. The Grand Tour is the production company of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, which had recorded exclusively for Philips until recently. The disc was recorded at a concert in Tokyo last year, with some coughing evident but not intrusive.

The coupling of Mozart’s Catholic and Masonic funeral music has already been done on disc by Parrott and Norrington, but it is rather less appropriate than it might seem superficially (neither Harnoncourt nor Kegel included it in complete sets of sacred music). The Requiem has also been filled out with Gregorian chant on at least two earlier recordings: the John F. Kennedy commemoration in Boston in January 1964 (RCA Victor) and a Mozart anniversary Mass in Tokyo in December 1965 (Japanese London). The parts of the Mass that might have been set by Mozart but were not are the Gradual and Tract. On this disc the Gradual is still missing, but the chant Tract is sung. It is misplaced between the Sequence and the Offertory. On the other hand, Mozart’s Introit is preceded by the chant setting while his Offertory is followed by the chant setting. There is no point to these duplications, although they are beautifully sung in the latest chant style (not a style that Mozart would have recognized).

The main work is exquisitely rendered. The tempos are not nearly as rushed as other early-music performers have given us. The soloists (only tenor Zeger Vandersteene is a familiar name) are competent but not quite equal to the very best. The music moves with a strong rhythmic snap without being rushed. The chorus is clearly the featured part of the ensemble.

Except for the duplicate chant insertions, this is a satisfying disc in a crowded field.
J. F. Weber, Fanfare