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The Agnus is not alone in springing surprises (the joyously assertive bass solo of the final 'Dona nobis pacem' runs contrary to many other subdued settings). The 'Gratias agimus' of the Gloria is another fine quartet; baritone and contralto are wrapped around by an exquisite violin solo at 'Et incarnatus'; the almost militaristic 'Et resurrexit' thrills to the marrow. There are some affecting aria sections -- for tenor or contralto, for instance -- and a fine one for baritone, who also leads the four soloists in the Benedictus (after a slightly forced tenor-baritone duet), taking over from a thrillingly 'big' Sanctus whose chorus Osannas sweep all before them.

Again, it's important to emphasise : this is not just 'another' mass setting, with many of the usual clichés. Mayr has thought the Mass text through profoundly, and come up with something -- for what after all was a major occasion in the Bavarian calendar -- whose very originality and freshness rise stupendously to the 'occasion' of an inauguration. Nor is it just 'grand' in the Cherubini manner : it's varied and startling, with the dramatic genius of the stage composer very much in evidence. Think rather of Verdi.

I have the odd reservation about the sound : there seems also to be the occasional extraneous noise (possibly from Hauk himself); but these are cavils : by and large the recording holds up well to the large forces entailed. The woodwind have some splendid moments -- flute and bassoon before a subtly pointed 'Qui tollis', for instance, or joining, in the Haydn-evoking 'Miserere's, with some excitingly bouncy, twangy strings that would make even Harnoncourt jealous. Very rarely indeed does the energy and inspiration sag. In short, a terrific experience, for which we should offer Guild a handsome pat on the back.

Mayr's reflective settings of The Passion and Stabat Mater can also be found on Guild GMCD 7251-2.

Copyright © 19 March 2003 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK


Mayr: Missa in C minor

GMCD 7231 DDD Stereo 65'48" 2001 Guild Music Ltd

Marina Ulewicz, soprano; Christa Mayer, contralto; Thomas Cooley, tenor; Thomas Gropper, bass; Vokalensemble Ingolstadt; Georgian Chamber Orchestra, Ingolstadt; Franz Hauk, conductor

Johann Simon Mayr: Missa c-Moll für soli, chor und orchester (1826); Mozart: Salve Regina in F K anh C 3.01; Mozart: Quis te comprehendat in E flat K anh B zu 370a (361); Mozart: In te Domine speravi in E flat K anh B zu 505




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