ROSETTI: Requiem & other works – Soloists/Camerata Philharmonic/ Johannes Moesus – ARS

by | Oct 29, 2011 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

ANTONIO ROSETTI: Requiem, H 15; Sinfonia in E-flat, Murray A23; Graduale in E-flat, Murray H24; Graduale in B-flat, Murray H25; Salve Regina in E-flat, Murray F85; Jesu, rex fortissimo in d, Murray H31 – Marcia Porter, soprano/ Anna Havlikova, mezzo-soprano/ Ondrej Socha, tenor/ Matthew Markham, baritone/ The Prague Singers/ La Gioia/ Camerata Philharmonic Bohemia/ Johannes Moesus – ARS multichannel SACD 38 095, 61:51 [Distr. by Qualiton] ***1/2:
This is an interesting SACD of mostly late music by the impressive Antonio Rosetti (1750-92), a Bohemian educated by the Jesuits in Prague, but eventually avoiding the clerical estate to become a double-bassist and composer whose music was quite frequently played. He sired three children and was prolific musically as well, especially noted for his Six Symphonies (1782), his Horn Concerto (which many think served as the model for Mozart’s four) and many concertos (which I can easily recommend the four-disc set from CPO 777166). He wrote in other genres as well, as this disc testifies to, though I am not so sure the choral work is up to the instrumental standards.
When in 1791, nine days after Mozart’s death, conductor Joseph Strobach sought for a work to be done in the late composer’s memory, he turned to one actually written 15 years earlier, fairly well known, and existing in different versions by Rosetti. Some adjustments had to be made (it was originally composed for the funeral of a royal woman) but this posed little difficulty for the seasoned conductor. The piece is mildly inspired, somewhat derivative in spots, though also sports a few really Mozart-like moments, the kind you find in abundance in his concertos and symphonies. What really raises eyebrows is the fact that this music was given in the large church of St. Nicholas in Prague (it held 4000 people) by a combined force of 120 musicians! (Don’t period instrument practitioners ever read some of these accounts?) So much for small-sized classical performances…which is what we get here as well.
The other works are essentially motets written for varied times and places. The rollicking Symphony in E-flat, which features a gorgeous slow movement, is probably the best work here, with the excellent programming choice to include Meingosus Gaelle’s arrangement of the piece into two choral graduales that use the work almost in toto (two movements anyway), yet is extremely clever in the harmonic interjections of the choir.
Knowing many of the concertos as I do, this album was poised to be a big success with me, but I just don’t think the writing is up to Rosetti’s usual standards. Nevertheless, the committed performances on this disc will go about as far toward convincing Rosetti lovers that they should own this disc as can be. Others might want to sample the CPO discs first. Sound is simply delightful here, well-balanced and lively with a fine degree of warmth in the choral passages. Solo performers are excellent, along with the choir, though there are some scratchy moments in the orchestra, not detrimental to full enjoyment.
—Steven Ritter

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