Richter, Karl

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Maria Stader
Alto: Hertha Töpper
Tenor: John Van Kesteren
Bass: Karl-Christian Kohn

Choir: Munich Bach Choir
Orchestra: Munich Bach Orchestra
Conductor: Karl Richter

Date: 1961

Label: Teldec
Cat No.: 4509-97926-2
Released: 1995
Performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D minor typically fall into two categories: traditional versions for large choir and orchestra of the completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr, and leaner interpretations with smaller forces and original instrumentation, based on period practices and revisionist scholarship. Camps have developed around these styles of performance, though there was a time when the lines were not so clearly drawn, and the thoughtful explorations of Karl Richter seem in retrospect to stand somewhere between sides. In this durable 1961 recording, reissued many times over the years, Richter followed convention by performing the Süssmayr version of the Requiem without revised orchestration or additional music, yet looked forward to historically informed practices through the deployment of leaner choral textures, more focused orchestral sonorities, crisper rhythms, and forward-leaning tempos with little rubato, to create readings that were not weighed down by excessive reverence. The first-rate vocal soloists in this performance were soprano Maria Stader, alto Hertha Toepper, tenor John van Kesteren, and bass Karl-Christian Kohn, and their evenly matched qualities resulted in a well-blended quartet. The Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra were remarkably transparent and almost all details are fully audible, despite the surface noise of the analog recording. While this historic performance won’t satisfy purists of the period practices camp, and may seem dull to traditionalists who already have their favorite recordings, it is worth appreciating as a transitional interpretation that prepared the way for re-evaluating the Requiem in a fresh light.

Blair Sanderson,