Mozart: Requiem2018-09-04T17:19:22+00:00

Project Description

MOZART: REQUIEM

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About this release

A cornerstone of choral repertoire, Mozart’s Requiem has been performed and recorded by many leading artists. This performance conducted by Malcolm Archer with  Winchester College Chapel Choir, London Mozart Players, and soloists Sarah Fox, Diana Moore, John Mark Ainsley & Ashley Riches delivers a compelling performance: combining the thrilling clarity of Winchester College choir, a star studded line up of soloists and the integrity of the countries longest established orchestra in Süssmayr’s completion of the work.

Commissioned Programme Note

The story of Mozart’s Requiem is both fascinating and intriguing. In the last months of Mozart’s life, the composer was perhaps as inspirationally active as he had ever been, (two operas recently completed) despite his declining health. Yet the composition of the Requiem was something which weighed heavily on his mind and spirit and haunted him greatly. As he wrote in a letter to his father in 1787:

“as death when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of our existence, I have formed during the past few years such close relations with this best and truest friend of mankind, that his image is not only no longer terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling! And I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key that unlocks the door to our true happiness. I never lie down at night without reflecting—young as I am—I may not live to see another day.”[read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] The various myths which have surrounded the Requiem were largely spread by his biographers after his death and were fanciful. Those who have seen Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus—later made into the box office hit film—know well the fictional notion that the composer Salieri was the mysterious stranger who visited Mozart and paid him to write the Requiem for an ‘anonymous patron’. The real truth is just as chilling. The stranger in grey was, in fact, the steward of a Viennese aristocrat, Count Franz von Walsegg-Stuppach, a wealthy amateur musician who was accustomed to hiring professional musicians to perform in his home. He also liked to commission works secretly (copying the instrumental parts in his own hand) and then asking the players to guess who the composer was. The Count was commissioning Mozart to write the Requiem so he could pass it off as his own!

Mozart’s mysterious visitor undoubtedly had an adverse effect on his health, seeing this request as an omen of his own death. However, Mozart could not ignore the stage payments on offer to him as he was, by all accounts, considerably in debt. Already exhausted from writing two operas La Clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte—both in production at the time—he had little energy left for the Requiem, and he died without completing the work.

After Mozart’s death, his widow Constanza was confronted with a dilemma. In order to be paid the other half of the commissioning fee, she had to deliver a completed score, and being also in serious financial hardship following the death of her husband, she searched for someone to complete the work for her. Mozart had only finished the vocal parts and continuo from the Introit to the Offertory, and the Lacrimosa ended after just eight bars. She finally persuaded Mozart’s 25-year-old pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr to complete and score the Requiem. Süssmayr knew Mozart well and had been with him during the creative process—his handwriting was also very similar to Mozart’s. In fact, it may well be that Süssmayr wrote down from dictation many of Mozart’s ideas for the work. Süssmayr was certainly not a composer of Mozart’s ability or genius, but he was skilled enough for the job to be done well. Apparently, Count Franz was delighted with the result, which suited his devious purposes admirably!

The work might not exist today if it were not for the fact that Constanza broke the terms of the agreement and had the entire score copied out for her own safekeeping, in addition to the copy that was delivered to the Count. She also arranged a public benefit performance of the work which further frustrated the Count’s plans.

In fact, the popularity of Mozart’s Requiem today is owed to the considerable and skilled efforts of Süssmayr. It is for this reason that our recording is true to this version of the work. Others have tried to reconstruct the work from Mozart’s original sketches, but in my opinion, none has succeeded as well as Süssmayr. Indeed, the Benedictus is arguably one of the finest movements, and surely one of which even Mozart would have been proud.

It is true that the Süssmayr completion does suffer from some over-scoring at times, especially in the trombone writing during choruses, but with judicious ‘thinning out’ the clarity of the music can shine through luminously and one is easily convinced that we are listening to a work by Mozart.

Süssmayr claimed that his work (apart from the Sanctus and Agnus Dei) was entirely based on Mozart’s own sketches and plans. There is no reason to doubt this, although some claim that the movements that Süssmayr composed do not have the idiomatically Mozartian lines and that they possess flaws in musical style and grammar that are foreign to Mozart’s idiom.

The Sanctus received some criticism in terms of orchestration, and the fact that the Hosanna is a truncated fugue rather than something more fully-blown. Also, the fact that Süssmayr brought back the Hosanna fugue in a different key at the end of the Benedictus came in for criticism. However, balance this with the sublime vocal writing for the soloists in the Benedictus and the ingenious way in which he has completed the Lacrimosa—more effectively than other versions—and we see that Süssmayr did indeed do a fine job. Were it not for him, a potentially great work would have been lost, probably for ever.

(Malcolm Archer, 2017)[/read]

About the artists

London Mozart Players

Founded in 1949 by Harry Blech, the London Mozart Players is the UK’s longest established chamber orchestra.

Known for its unmistakable British roots, the orchestra has developed an outstanding reputation for adventurous, ambitious programming. From Baroque through to genre-crossing contemporary music, the London Mozart Players is constantly exploring new venues and audiences through collaborations with artists and personalities from all over the creative scene. The ensemble has enjoyed a long history of association with many of the world’s finest musical personalities including Igor Stravinsky, Sir James Galway, Dame Felicity Lott, Jane Glover, Julian Lloyd Webber, Stephen Hough, Nicola Benedetti, John Suchet and Simon Callow.

Since its inception, the orchestra has championed new works, regularly giving world premiere performances by composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Tarik O’Regan, Sally Beamish, Cecilia McDowall, Lynne Plowman, Fraser Trainer and Roxanna Panufnik, who was appointed as Associate Composer of the ensemble in 2011. The ensemble has a strong tradition of supporting new music for choirs; in 2014 they joined forces with Portsmouth Grammar School to commission a major new choral work by Jonathan Dove, For an Unknown Soldier, and in the same year performed the world premiere of Toby Young’s Love and Harmony with the London Oriana Choir.

Away from their commitment to live performances across the UK, the London Mozart Players also undertake an international touring schedule which has seen them give performances in the Far East, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium and Spain. A long relationship with classical label Chandos has led to a series of over 20 recordings, including works by Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Clementi, Salieri and Stamitz. The orchestra featured on Naxos’ release Flowers of the Field alongside the City of London Choir, Roderick Williams and Associate Conductor Hilary Davan Wetton, which reached No.1 in the Classical Album Charts.

The orchestra regularly performs with their Conductor Laureate Howard Shelley, as well as working closely with some of the world’s eminent conductors and soloists, including Tasmin Little, Anthony Marwood, BBC Young Musician 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason and cellist Laura van der Heijden, the orchestra’s first Young Artist in Residence.

In 2016, the London Mozart Players relocated their home to St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, undertaking a rich programme of initiatives within the local community. Their commitment to reaching new audiences is underlined with their highly-regarded education and community programme LMP Voyager, which sees the ensemble take world-class classical music into schools, colleges, local amateur groups and areas of the community, helping to build excellence and passion for classical music through performance and shared experience.

The London Mozart Players has enjoyed the patronage of HRH The Earl of Wessex since 1988. In the summer of 2014, the orchestra began a new and exciting phase in its history, becoming the first professional orchestra in the UK to be managed both operationally and artistically by the players.

Winchester College Chapel Choir

Winchester College Chapel Choir sings the regular services in Winchester College Chapel. Winchester College was founded by William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, in 1382, and Winchester College Quiristers have for over 625 years sung services in Winchester College Chapel. In modern times they have formed a choir renowned for its excellence, and their musical director is Malcolm Archer.

The Quiristers, who form the top line of the choir, perform a wide variety of music at home and abroad. They benefit from bursaries, a first rate all-round education, and a particularly broad musical training. This builds confidence, teamwork and a commitment to the highest standards. The Quiristers also sing on their own as a concert choir, as well as with Winchester College Chapel Choir. The senior boys from the College, many with previous experience as both choristers and Quiristers, provide the lower voices.

Since 1966 the Quiristers have attended The Pilgrims’ School. They are given bursaries which are funded by Winchester College, and means tested top up funding is available up to 100 per cent. At Pilgrims’ the Quiristers benefit from the best academic teaching and join in all the school’s sporting activities.

Performances

Winchester College Chapel Choir broadcasts, records and goes on tour, and in recent years they have sung in the USA, Italy, France, Holland, Russia and Germany. In the Quiristers’ own concerts they perform a fascinating mix of both sacred and secular repertoire. The Chapel Choir regularly sings in London, where performances have included the BBC Promenade Concerts and The London Handel Festival. They have also performed Bach’s St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music. They recently sang for a special 70th birthday concert for the composer John Rutter.

The frequently appear on BBC TV and Radio. Appearances have included the BBC Radio 3 ‘Choral Evensong’ programme and Classic FM. In 2015 a Quirister won the coveted BBC Young Chorister of the Year competition, and it is noteworthy that his was the fourth such success in recent years.

The Chapel Choir has regularly broadcast the Classic FM carol service and the Quiristers have recorded Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols for BBC Radio 4.

Recording

The Chapel Choir is proud of its association with Convivium Records. Their releases have included Stanford’s Choral Music and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. The also recorded Mozart’s Requiem with the London Mozart Players. The choir has also recorded a disc of plainsong for Warner Classics in association with film and TV composer David Perry.

For boys with musical gifts, our musical training offers a unique opportunity. All our boys learn two instruments, with practice timetabled and supervised. As a result, many win scholarships (academic and musical) to a range of secondary schools, including Winchester College. Many former Quiristers and Chapel Choir members have gone on to take up Oxbridge choral and organ scholarships and won places at our top musical conservatoires.

Malcolm Archer

Malcolm Archer is one of the world’s leading church musicians. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in cathedral music. Previous posts include Norwich, Bristol, Wells Cathedrals and most notably Director of Music at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. He is now Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College, where he is responsible for the College’s ancient choral foundation; conducting the Chapel Choir and teaching the organ.

During his time at St. Paul’s Cathedral he directed the choir for several State services, including the Tsunami Memorial Service and the London Bombings Service. He also directed 80th Birthday Service for HM The Queen. Buckingham Palace invited him to compose a special anthem which he performed live on the BBC. His many broadcasts and recordings from Wells and St. Paul’s have received critical acclaim, and the Daily Telegraph voted his CD of Christmas music from St. Paul’s as Editor’s Choice. His choir at Winchester College has an enviable reputation through their many broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. They tour international touring and have produced a number of highly praised recordings.

Malcolm Archer is much in demand as a choir trainer and choral and orchestral conductor, and he has directed concerts, workshops, courses and summer schools in various parts of the globe, as well as working with several leading orchestras. He is also the Musical Director of the Jean Langlais Festival in France. As an organ recitalist he has played in nine European countries, the USA and Canada, and his CDs include repertoire as diverse as J.S. Bach and Olivier Messiaen, as well as his own music.

Composer

As a composer, Malcolm Archer receives regular commissions from both sides of the Atlantic, and he has many published works. Recently he has composed works for the Southern Cathedrals Festival, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy and an anthem for the enthronement service of the Bishop of Winchester. He has also jointly edited two books for Oxford University Press: Advent for Choirs and Epiphany to All Saints for Choirs. His compositions are widely performed and greatly enjoyed for their approachable nature and singability.

Competition

He has been an adjudicator for the BBC Young Chorister of the year competition, and has over the years had 12 of his own choristers in the final including two winners, the most recent in 2015. Malcolm was a judge for the BBC Songs of Praise School Choirs competition for four years, becoming a chair of the judging panel for two of those competitions. He is also a frequent contributor to that programme as both interviewee and musical arranger. He has recently been a judge for the British Composer Awards.

Malcolm Archer has served as council member of the Royal College of Organists, and he is a member of the council of the Guild of Church Musicians. They recently awarded him the Fellowship for his services to church music over many years. In 2009, he was awarded the FRSCM (Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music) for his work in three cathedrals, and as a composer of church music.

  • Introitus: Requiem aeternam - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Kyrie eleison - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Dies irae - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Tuba mirum - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Rex tremendae - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Recordare - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Confutatis - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Lacrimosa - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Domine Jesu - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Hostias - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Sanctus - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Benedictus - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Agnus Dei - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Lux aeterna - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Cum sanctis tuis - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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Credits

Catalogue Number: CR036

Choir Winchester College Chapel Choir
Orchestra London Mozart Players
Soprano Sarah Fox
Alto Diana Moore
Tenor John Mark Ainsley
Bass Ashley Riches
Conductor Malcolm Archer

Cover Art Alison Archer
Photography
Various
Engineering Adaq Khan
Mastering Adaq Khan
Producer Andrew King
Creative Director John Bevan
Executive Producer Adrian Green

Recorded 27, 28 June, 2016
Venue New Hall, Winchester College
Total Duration 49 mins

Further information

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