HASSE: Requiem in C; Miserere in E minor – Greta De Reyghere, soprano/ Susanna Moncayo von Hase, alto/ Ian Honeyman, tenor/ Dirk Snellings, bass/ Il Fondamento/ Paul Dombrecht, conductor – Opus III/Naïve

by | Jun 19, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

HASSE: Requiem in C; Miserere in E minor – Greta De Reyghere, soprano/ Susanna Moncayo von Hase, alto/ Ian Honeyman, tenor/ Dirk Snellings, bass/ Il Fondamento/ Paul Dombrecht, conductor – Opus III/Naïve  OP30464, 74:11 ****1/2 [Distr. by Allegro]:
Johann Adolf Hasse (1699-1783) was one of the most important figures of the late baroque (some might argue the most important figure), yet his music then, as today, was quickly forgotten not long after his death. Mozart and Haydn tend to have that effect on composers, and we define the whole era almost on the efforts of those two gentlemen alone. But the fact remains that there were many other worthies competing at the same time, and while, ultimately, those others cannot rank with these two greatest of the greats, many of them created a lot of music that deserves to be heard today. One could easily argue that the two pieces on this recording are among them.
 
When Prince Augustus II’s life came to an end, Hasse penned this requiem, one of the glories of early classical choral music, replete with fine contrapuntal chorales and chromatic episodes that add drama to the texts. But for Hasse it marked a turning point, as the new prince Friedrich Christian dismissed the Hasses without even awarding them a pension due to the excessive salaries that had been paid to the previous Kapellmeister and expenses occurred during the previous years of war. Off to Vienna it was, where Hasse was received with all of the honors due to someone in that position, and he and his family lived out their lives comfortably and in relative peace. Requiem, with an orchestra of flutes, oboes, horns, bassoons, trumpets and timpani, is one of his most famous pieces, and well deserving of the accolades it received at the time. Most striking is the general tone, far from the somberness of, say, Mozart, and providing a much cheerier outlook on the afterlife, even in the Dies Irae.  The Miserere also provides more of a supplicant’s desire for reconciliation than for any sort of breast-beating penitence, and Hasse sunk some of his most lyrical and lovely music into it. In its time it was also recognized as a masterpiece, and hearing it today we should come to the same conclusion.
This is a 1993 Opus 111 release (that sterling label’s issues have now been taken under the wing of Naïve Classics, fortunately), and what you get is the original release packaged in an outer covering that displays Naïve’s logo and information. Even at 15 years old, this recording holds up well since Opus 111 releases always had great sound. Only the tenor in the Requiem bothers me a bit–he seems strained in spots—otherwise this is a wonderful issue to have back in the catalog. If you thought you had heard it all, think again, and try this composer. I can’t think of a better place to start than these two works.
— Steven Ritter
 
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