Luigi Cherubini, a contemporary of Beethoven and Mozart and friend of Haydn, was Italian-born but spent most of his creative life in Paris. So, although he was not directly a part of the late-18th century Viennese music scene, like many others of his generation his work tends to get lost today in the far-reaching creative shadows of those other three musical giants. In many cases, the neglect is deserved, but not with respect to Cherubini, who did achieve an exalted standing in the musical society of his time and whose music exhibits tremendous expressive range and impressive command of orchestral writing. This "solemn" mass, written in 1811, is a huge piece, more than an hour long, that requires a highly skilled chorus and a quartet of soloists (with two additional singers for the "Et incarnatus est"), accompanied by a full orchestra. The style is hard to neatly define because it seems to incorporate so many elements, looking back to Mozart and ahead to Beethoven and beyond. One thing that's perpetually evident in the solo and quartet sections is Cherubini's abundant experience writing operas, and his occasional blatant dramatic touches--the trumpet blasts at the beginning of "Et resurrexit"--are charming. There also are sections of tremendous excitement, such as the fugal allegro "Cum Sancto Spiritu" that's worthy of comparison with the best composers of the time. Conductor Helmuth Rilling is fully in command of this taxing piece, and certainly has no trouble convincing us of its power to engage and even thrill its audience. The soloists are excellent (especially in the gorgeous "Benedictus"), and the chorus must be given tons of credit for such intensely focused, energetic, and technically solid singing. --David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Label: SWR Music
Composer: Luigi Cherubini
Conductor: Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble: Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Stuttgart Bach Collegium
Performer: Cornelia Kallisch, Gisela Burandt, Jacob Will, Martin Thompson, Martin Wanner, Pamela Coburn
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