Review of Mozart concert: Torso or full body

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts completed mass in C-minor could be hear at Sct. Paul’s church Saturday. Mozart’s great mass attempted as a complete mass by a Copenhagen ensemble.

Ole Straarup (Århus Stiftstidende, 27 November, 2016)

4 stars

After several years of musical directorship of Copenhagen Soloists, a vocal and orchestral ensemble that, as the title suggests, is solistically casted, Jonathan Ofir has taken upon himself to provide a completed version of Mozart’s great mass in C minor.

As is the case with another one of the composer’s great works, the Requiem, the mass in C minor was left incomplete, and since Mozart’s death there have been several attempts made at filling in the holes of the work with various cuts and borrowings from other works by the composer. In Jonathan Ofir’s version, the filling out has been achieved by borrowings from Missa Longa (KV 262) and Missa Solemnis (KV 337), and this has made the Credo complete as well as adding a concluding Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem.

Without delving into technicalities, I must say, that this manner of providing a full mass sequence definitely works well in itself, but that I personally prefer the torso, the incomplete composition. This is partly to do with the sense that the work in its incomplete form has its own unique aura, as well as the fact that Mozart isn’t just Mozart: There is an expressional difference that comes with the extra added movements. But having said that, one must acknowledge the attempt as both interesting and – specifically – musically exciting to listen to.

Copenhagen Soloists and Jonathan Ofir have a lot of passion and, not least, a great musical potential and power of expression. It works exceptionally well, that the professional choir singers can also be soloists, and that the interaction between orchestra and singers in dynamic respect is extremely expressive. One really catches the Mozartian expression in both a musical as well as a religious sense.

For a few moments one experienced a certain rhythmic unrest and a lack of tempo synchronization between orchestra and singers, but overall Jonathan Ofir drove the performance to a fine, cohesive experience. The soloists amongst the choir singers were especially good, in the female side with Sophie Thing Simonsen, Radmilla Rajic, Anna Maria Wierød and Marianne Heuer in various combinations, and the collective choir work was both technically and musically convincing.

Mozart is demanding. The orchestra on so- called authentic [period] instruments was likewise convincing, lively and agile in its playing, also powerful when required.

Copenhagen Soloists has not performed earlier in Århus. Orchestra, choir soloists and conductor were all a very good acquaintance, which one would gladly listen to again.

About the work
Wolfgang Amdeus Mozart: Mass in C-minor. Copenhagen Soloists, conductor: Jonathan Ofir. Sct. Paul’s church, Saturday afternoon.