Somary, Johannes

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Carole Bogard
Mezzo-Soprano: Ann Murray
Tenor: Richard Lewis
Bass-Baritone: Michael Rippon

Choir: Amor Artis Chorus
Orchestra: English Chamber Orchestra
Conductor: Johannes Somary

Date: 1975
Venue: Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Label: Vanguard Classics
Cat No.: 08 5010 71
Released: 1994
Johannes Somary captains a ship sunk by its soloists. Carole Bogard is truly awful here, her thin soprano bleating on sustained notes and resolutely refusing to blend tonally with her colleagues. Not to flog a dead horse (or croaking soprano), but if you get this disc you’ve got a great party record: track 8 about 1:20 in brings you a wildly ludicrous “sed signifer sanctus.” Michael Rippon survives the cruel Tuba mirum, but his unresonant, lightweight bass lets the side down elsewhere. Ann Murray doesn’t have much to do but does it well enough. Richard Lewis is the best of the lot, though by 1975, when this was made, the stylish lyric tenor that made so many fine recordings in the late 1950s and ’60s had lost some of its color and dexterity.

But enough negativism. The chorus is the bright spot, singing with spirit, firm attacks, and real excitement in the Dies Irae and elsewhere. The orchestra draws no complaints either. Somary leads a sturdy, straightforward performance that earns its place somewhere in the low-middle of the mounting pile of recorded Requiems. The sound is a bit faded at the edges, but unobjectionable. The version used is the traditional Süssmayr completion of Mozart’s unfinished work, as you might guess from a recording date that precedes the various (and variously indifferent) attempts by others to complete it.
— Dan Davis, Classics Today