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According to Einstein, Mozart sketched about forty pages of the score before setting it aside to work on La clemenza di Tito (K621) and Die Zauberflöte (K620): 'He was able to finish only the Requiem and Kyrie, and to sketch the eight sections from the Dies irae through the Hostias -- that is, to set down in the score the voice parts, bass, and hints for the instrumentation. The last three movements were completely lacking.

Since the 1970s musicologists less than satisfied with the accepted 'Süssmayr' completion, have devised alternative endings for the Requiem. H C Robbins-Landon re-orchestrated parts of the score using incomplete work by Joseph von Eybler (the first composer asked by Constanze Mozart to complete her husband's score).

In contrast, Levin's version retains the structure of Franz Xaver Süssmayr while adjusting orchestration, some vocal detail and periodically rewriting entire sections; making the work more truly Mozartian in character. In Süssmayr's version, 'Amen' is conveyed by the final two, peremptory chords of the Lacrimosa.

Richard Maunder and Levin both use the sixteen measure fragment for an 'Amen' fugue discovered in the 1960s, creating longer, more substantial settings to the words 'Amen' at the end of the sequence.

Ultimately Maunder and Levin recomposed the ending of the Lacrimosa leading to an entire movement with 'Amen' as its text [listen -- track 9, 2:54-4:09].

The NZSO and Tower Voices demonstrate Levin's most persuasive extant completion with admirable conviction yet hearing the Lacrimosa and Amen in isolation -- for all their interest -- is surely for the academician; and far less than satisfying for the rest of us.

In sum -- a cherishable, challenging, life-affirming Mozart disc -- worthy of a place among the very best available.

Copyright © 18 September 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Mozart Festival 9-13 August 2006

Stereo FIRST RELEASE 65'35" 2006 NZSO

Robert Levin, piano; Tower Voices; New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; Nicholas McGegan, conductor

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Piano Concerto No 24 in C minor K491 (Allegro; Larghetto; Allegretto); Masonic Funeral Music K477; Symphony No 40 in G minor K550 (Molto allegro; Andante; Menuetto; Allegro assai); Lacrimosa and Amen (Requiem K626, completed by Robert Levin)


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