Higginbottom, Edward

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsRelease NotesReviews
Boy Soprano: Jonty Ward
Boy Alto: James Swash
Tenor: Guy Cutting
Bass: Jonathan Howard

Choir: Choir of New College Oxford
Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Conductor: Edward Higginbottom

Date: July, 2010
Venue: St Michael’s Church, Summertown, Oxford, UK

Label: Novum
Cat No.: NCR 1383
Released: June, 2011
What makes this recording special? The use of soloists drawn from the chorus, as in Mozart’s day – including young male singers for the soprano and alto solos – combined with the use of a period band. These are not idle historical gestures. The contemporary virtues of this approach are consistency in the sound-world between chorus and solo ensemble, and homogeneity of style between orchestra and chorus.

The musical text employed is Süssmayr’s completion of Mozart’s unfinished score – what Christoph Wolff has called ‘the only document that represents the genuine musical truth of the unfinished work’.

The two boy soloists acquit themselves admirably, with barely a hint of vulnerability in exposed moments such as the “Te decet hymnus” or the “Recordare”, and combine well with the two men to create a more truthfully “ecclesiastical” sound than is often the case with starrier projects. The choir is full-throated and admirably secure.
— Gramophone Magazine, October 2011
Edward Higginbottom has opted to ignore the plethora of more recent completions in favour of Süssmayr’s “official” version, his faithfulness extending to drawing individual soloists from the choir, even using male voices for the higher parts. It’s an interesting exercise which perhaps pays greatest dividends in the “Benedictus” section employing just the quartet of soloists.
— The Telegraph, 17th June 2011
Discs from New College Choir are always worth hearing, but there has to be a compelling reason to make (and to buy for that matter) another recording of Mozart’s famous Requiem. The sleeve notes tell us that ‘you will find no other recording… where the ages of the soloists range from 12 to 22 …an affirmation of the capacity of young people to astonish us with their skill and depth of understanding’, and it is boys who sing both the soprano and alto solo parts. The choir brings out all of the necessary emotion in the music, and this is surely assisted by Edward Higginbottom’s tempi, which are refreshingly moderate, without ever seeming slow, thereby allowing the listener to hear more of the detail of the music. The singing is well supported by the ever-thrilling Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. If you still need convincing, I suggest that you buy a copy of the disc and listen for yourself.
Tim Rogerson, Cathedral Music, May 2013