Following on the 2015 release of Mozart's Requiem, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan has gone on to record the composers Mass in C minor, K427 the 'Great Mass'. As the nickname indicates it is a work of unusual proportions for a mass of the Classical period or would have been so, had Mozart completed it. It is not known for what occasion Mozart intended the work, but a letter to his father Leopold dated 4 January 1783 indicate that he may have committed himself to writing it in connection with his marriage to Constanze and a planned visit to Salzburg. A performance of parts of the Mass did take place in Salzburg in October 1783, with Constanze performing the prominent soprano part. Two years later Mozart reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria sections in the sacred cantata Davidde penitente, K469, but the Mass itself was left incomplete. The present performance includes the sections completed by Mozart himself, as well as those sections for which extensive sketches by Mozart provided a basis for completion (by Franz Beyer in 1989). Three of Suzuki's soloists also took part in the recording of the Requiem, while the Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen makes her first appearance on BIS, shining in the aria Laudamus te. The disc closes with the celebrated cantata Exsultate, jubilate in which the soprano Carolyn Sampson glitters in the virtuosic solo part. As an appendix to the programme she and the Bach Collegium Japan orchestra also repeats the initial aria, in a less well-known later version with a slightly different text and with flutes replacing the oboes of the original.
This disc as a whole is certainly a winner; the Mass easily ranks alongside the period-instrument benchmarks. GRAMOPHONE EDITORS CHOICE --Gramophone,Dec'16
A tremendous achievement. /// 3* …playing and singing are excellent throughout, especially from the vocal soloists, all giving florid and characterful performances. The Exsultate, Jubilate makes an ideal filler, not least for the further opportunity it provides to hear soprano Carolyn Sampson, here on excellent form. The SACD audio is atmospheric and clear, giving an ideal audio image for the orchestra and soloists… --MusicWeb,Jan'17 /// Classical Ear, 27 Mar'17
'Suzuki grasps the directness of Mozart's Catholic faith...Stripping the score right back, [he] makes musicianship dominate. He taps into the subtle arts of his fellow performers, especially Carolyn Sampson, to create a benchmark performance.' Performance ***** Recording ***** RECORDING OF THE MONTH --BBC Music Magazine,Jan 17