Matt, Nicol

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Soprano: Pamela Heuvelmans
Alto: Barbara Werner
Tenor: Robert Morvaj
Bass: Thomas Pfeiffer

Choir: Chamber Choir of Europe
Orchestra: South-west German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim
Conductor: Nicol Matt

Date: July 2001
Venue: Alte Kirche, Fautenbach, South Germany

Label: Classic Collection
Cat No.: 99833
Label: Brilliant
Cat No.: 95010 / CD97 Mozart Complete Edition
Released: August 2014

Nicol Matt’s 2001 performance of the Requiem in D minor, K. 626, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been reissued several times as a single disc and as part of box sets of the choral works, so its ready availability and straightforward presentation of the completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, which is the most widely accepted version, make this a fairly reliable recording for most listeners’ purposes. Although the performers are not household names, and certainly not world-class musicians, they deserve serious consideration for their controlled singing, polished playing, and expressive delivery, and Matt’s focused direction makes the soloists, choir, and orchestra greater than the sum of their parts. While soprano Pamela Heuvelmans, alto Barbara Werner, tenor Robert Morvaj, and bass Thomas Pfeiffer seem a little unevenly matched to the music when heard individually (with Heuvelmans’ vibrato on the excessive side), the quartet is fine in tonal blend and expressive unity, especially in the unusually spry and lucid Recordare. The Chamber Choir of Europe is clear in diction, crisp in rhythms, and light in texture, so the choral parts are always buoyant and transparent, which helps such stormy sections as the Dies irae, Rex tremendae, and Confutatis come across cleanly here. The Südwestdeutches Kammerorchester Pforzheim plays with a light sound that resembles that of a period orchestra, though there is no indication that any original instruments or modern copies are used. One feature that plainly comes through in this recording is the occasional brass doubling of the choral parts, which is often played down in other performances but which should be heard because of the richness it brings to the counterpoint. In terms of stylistic practice, Matt’s conducting is influenced by early music scholarship, though he is no slavish imitator, and he allows his musicians a degree of interpretative flexibility that would be unthinkable in most historically informed renditions. The reproduction is quite vivid and detailed, so this recording of the Requiem is particularly good for following with a score.
Blair Sanderson,