Mozart: Mass in C Minor, K. 427 "Great" - Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'
on period instruments
Sylvia McNair, Diana Montague, Antohony Rolfe Johnson, Cornelius Hauptmann
Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner
“Writers on Mozart sometimes take him to task for the alleged mixture of style in the C minor Mass, in particular the use of florid, 'operatic' solo writing amidst all the severe ecclesiastical counterpoint.
To object is to misunderstand the nature of Mozart's religion, but it takes a performance as stylistically accomplished as this one to make the point in practice. The usual stumbling-block is the 'Et incarnatus', with its richly embellished solo line and its wind obbligatos. Sung as it is here, by Sylvia McNair, beautifully refined in detail, it's indeed passionate, but passionately devout.
McNair is deeply affecting in the 'Christe', taken quite spaciously and set in a measured Kyrie of great cumulative power which also has some fine, clean singing from the Monteverdi Choir.
As with Gardiner's version of the Requiem you might wish for the sound of a boys' choir (why go to the trouble of having authentic instruments if you then use unauthentic voices?) but the bright, forward tone of his sopranos is very persuasive.
The music is all strongly characterised: the 'Gloria' jubilant, the 'Qui tollis' grandly elegiac with its solemn, inexorable march rhythm and its dying phrases echoed between the choirs, the 'Credo' full of vitality. Some of the 'Cum sancto spiritu' fugue is too heavily accented, though.
Nevertheless, a confident recommendation.”