MOZART Great Mass + BEETHOVEN, HAYDN / McCreesh 4775744

McCreesh's soloists, the radiant Camilla Tilling and the rich-toned Sarah Connolly, are just as good, with Connolly unfazed by her flights into high soprano territory. Elsewhere, Tilling perfectly catches the wondering pastoral innocence of the 'Et incarnatus est', taken at a gently lilting two-in-a-bar . . . There have been excellent period-instrument recordings from Hogwood and Gardiner. McCreesh, sharply responsive both to the Mass's neo-Baroque monumentality and its Italianate sensuousness, is at least their match in drama and colour; and DG's recording is exemplary. The Gabrieli Consort sing with precision, fresh, firm tone and marvellous dynamic control, while the strings play with notable grace and refinement in the solo numbers. The Kyrie unfolds with an inexorable tread (McCreesh is specially good at creating and maintaining rhythmic tension), and the 'Cum Sancto Spiritu' fugue, taken at the swiftest possible tempo, combines dancing agility with a thrilling cumulative sweep. McCreesh's claims as a top recommendation are enhanced by the additional items, two magnificent, quasioperatic scenas by Haydn and Beethoven. Connolly, in the Haydn (again taking the high tessitura, complete with top Cs, in her stride), and Tilling are both superb, marrying a classical nobility of line with a profound identification with the plights of these suffering heroines in extremis.

. . . the C minor Mass can be a total experience in the right hands. With light-toned singers, period instruments and vibrant tempos, Paul McCreesh's performance brims with freshness and verve . . . few will be disappointed by the performances here, as fiery as they are supple.

The performance is absolutely first-class in every respect, with the Gabrieli Players clearly enjoying a leap forward in time and style from their usual period, and the Consort relishing the challenges that Mozart set, with sensitive enunciation of the Latin text in welcome addition to the clarity and accuracy of their singing. Camilla Tilling and Sarah Connolly are both excellent in the taxing soprano solos, and they are firmly supported by Timothy Robinson and Neal Davies in the tenor and bass parts. Paul McCreesh directs the performance with finely controlled enthusiasm, eschewing the temptation to linger over particularly beautiful details, selecting and integrating convincing tempos, and encouraging both rhythmic precision and telling dynamic gradations. As if this superb performance were not in itself enough, the CD also contains exciting accounts of Haydn's late Scena and aria "Berenice, che fai?" and Beethoven's setting of Metastasio's text "Ah! perfido" . . . Both performances form an outstanding bonus to this issue, the booklet of which offers the sung texts in four languages and an interesting discussion between McCreesh and Nick Komberley. The recording is ample yet fresh-toned. There couldn't be a better use for that Christmas present CD token that's still lurking on the mantelpiece!

Disc of the Month. Mozart's Mass in C minor is given an invigorating performance by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort.

On this recording, the featured soloists are Camilla Tilling, a young Swedisch rising star, and the renowned Britsh singer Sarah Connolly . . . Tilling is fabulous . . . The choral singing is incisive, the period-orchestra sound is wonderfully warm and McCreesh brings an urgency to the more Baroque choral movements . . .

Paul McCreesh displays passionate advocacy for the strangely neglected Mass in C minor . . . McCreesh couldn't be a stronger advocate.

From the outset, it is clear that McCreesh's is going to be a performance high on drama. After an orchestral introduction of hushed intensity, the Kyrie moves forward with an imposing breadth that nevertheless lacks no sense of forward momentum, and is given little spurts of heightened tension with a slight pressing forward at the repetition of "eleison" . . . McCresh's exceptional ear for balance pays countless dividends, the exceptional vocal ensemble work at "Quonium tu solu" (Gloria) . . . and Benedictus bearing testament to his long experience with solo vocal ensembles . . . McCreesh shares those testing and all-important soprano solos, with "Christe", and "Et incarnatus" (Credo) going to Camilla Tilling, and "Laudamus te" being allotted to Sarah Connolly . . . the latte comes off extremely well, being delivered with radiant tone, and well placed and articulated runs.

Jetant aux orties l'extrême prudence expressive qui accable, à notre sens, ses interprétations des oeuvres dramatiques de Haendel, Paul McCreesh nous fait une Messe en ut toutes voiles dehors, décomplexée, théâtrale . . .

McCreesh l'a prouvé plusieurs fois, il est un chef efficace! Il ne décape pas mais il rafraîchit, ravive et s'engage. Le chef-d'oeuvre de Mozart y gagne sur beaucoup de points, qu'on pourra contester selon les goûts : des tempos assez rapides mais sans bousculade . . . et un souci vraiment exceptionnel de la polyphonie où l'on retrouve l'autre qualité du chef : la clarté . . . Le choeur enfin, outre les qualités de clarté déjà mentionnées . . . est d'un investissement total et d'une pénitude héroique.

... una grabación excelente ...

Como siempre, el Gabrieli Consort brinda una interpretación de altura, artesanal y concisa ...