MOZART: Requiem – Genia Kuhmeier, soprano/ Bernarda Fink, contralto/ Mark Padmore, tenor/ Gerald Finley, bass/ Netherlands Radio Choir/ Royal Concertgebouw Orch./ Mariss Jansons – RCO Live multichannel SACD RCO 1402, 47:35 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Jansons, like Gergiev, continues to frustrate me. Alternating with streaks of brilliance and perplexity, the man has trouble mustering consistent runs of inspiration as far as I am concerned. This Requiem is a case in point; I hear a wonderfully innovative and effective softening and quieting of the passages in the “Rex tremendae” only to launch into a heavy handed and quite ham fisted “Confutatis”. It’s all quite disconcerting, and I long for the consistency in approach that I know Jansons is capable of. Overall however, this is a successful outing for Mozart’s greatest work (I think so anyway, and yes, I know it’s a torso), and Jansons elicits some stunningly good singing from his choral forces and presents us with some exquisitely enlightened balances as well. Tempo-wise it’s on the quick side, but not out of line with what has become common practice, and musically is very acceptable. The RCO, as usual, plays with all the grace, power, and finesse that we would expect.

Jansons uses the Sussmayer version, which is finally proving itself, after all the arguments and arrangements and reconstructions, to be the best and most durable—and also the most “authentic”—presentation of Mozart’s ideas. So it looks like we are coming full circle on that particular debate. Of course more music would be nice as this is by no means a cheap release—around 23 bucks—and something else would have been nice.

But the sound is sensational, one of the best of the Mozart Requiems in surround sound out there—though for meaner, leaner, and more consistent interpretatively, not to mention the best choral singing in the world, Runnicles and Atlanta are your forces—and the spirit was definitely in full strength this particular evening. This is an easy recommendation if not a first choice. But I am glad to have it, and I think you will enjoy it also.

—Steven Ritter