Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Michael De Sapio
Fanfare, November 2017

Naxos’s recording of a pastiche Mass assembled by conductor Franz Hauk from movements by Donizetti and his teacher Johann Simon Mayr suggests that the liturgical output of the bel canto composers is due for a reappraisal. Religious music that is engagingly human and colorful, it deserves to be taken seriously. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Michael De Sapio
Fanfare, July 2017

The performances are excellent overall, …the performers do justice to the Italiante ambiance of the music. The instrumental ensemble Concerto de Bassus gives transparent support in a happy compromise between historically conscious and modern style (the instruments are modern aside from what sound like natural horn and period timpani). The disc is well recorded in a spacious acoustic with good balance.

I happen to enjoy the approach to sacred music taken by Donizetti and his peers. There is nothing vulgar or profane about this music, which represents a sincere and refreshing emotional response to the sacred texts. This composite Mass offers catchy melodies, invigorating vocal and instrumental writing, rhythmic verve, and some harmonic surprises as well. It’s very good stuff and deserves to be taken seriously by both fans of opera and sacred music. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Marc Rochester
MusicWeb International, May 2017

The orchestra certainly gives a strongly melodramatic edge to the openings bars of the Kyrie, which is even more powerfully conveyed by the chorus. …tenor Mark Adler has a splendidly agile quality, and mezzo-soprano Marie-Sande Papenmeyer and soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill are particularly impressive in the ensemble passages. Hauk’s direction is tight, crisp and precise, with strongly marked accents and vivid dynamic contrasts. His brisk, no-nonsense sense of purpose, drives the music through all kinds of basic weaknesses and inconsistencies on which, with a less committed hand at the tiller, it might be inclined to founder. I particularly admire the way he maintains an almost Mozartian elegance in music which, rather too often, has the orchestral allure of a fairground organ…

A delightful Laudamus te, has a strong Mozart-feel, and while Norwegian soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill gives an utterly charming, richly florid account, perhaps the most delightful thing here is the bubbling orchestral accompaniment which has a lovely transparency.

There is a youthful fragility about the soprano of Marie-Sophie Pollak, which I find quite endearing in the Et incarnatus est of the Credo, but is particularly suited to Donizetti’s lovely setting of the Ave Maria. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Reynolds
American Record Guide, May 2017

The performing forces and recording are more than adequate. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

George Hall
BBC Music Magazine, April 2017


The performances are capable, with solid singing and playing revealing the qualities of church music very much conceived in the Italian style of the day—that is, broadly operatic. Soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill is fluent in the ‘Laudamus te’s’ and Martin Berner’s sturdy bass makes something jocular out of the ‘Domine Jesu’, while Theona Gubba-Chkheidze makes a fine job of the extensive violin obbligato to the ‘Qui sedes’—actually written by a third participant, Pietro Rovelli, one of the leading virtuosos of the time and a teacher at Mayr’s school in Bergamo. The ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’, on the other hand, represents the more sombre side of Donizetti’s creativity. © 2017 BBC Music Magazine

Richard Wigmore
Gramophone, April 2017

Franz Hauk obviously believes in the music and draws finely shaped and, where apt, full-bloodedly theatrical playing from his Bavarian forces. There is outstanding work from solo clarinet, horn and violin, and the woodwind choir carol delightfully in Mayr’s pastoral Benedictus. The soloists all have pleasing voices and blend well in ensemble, though only the Norwegian soprano Siri Karoline Thornhill has the bel canto finesse this music ideally requires. Her exquisitely poised singing of the ‘Qui tollis’, the wide intervals cleanly and gracefully taken, is a highlight of the whole performance. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Uwe Krusch
Pizzicato, March 2017

Pasticcio-technique was used to create a Mass consisting of pieces written by Donizetti and Mayr. The music is joyful and luminous, and this character is well matched by the cheerful performance. © 2017 Pizzicato, December 2016

The performers are all more than equal to the exigencies of this music, handling it with fervor and exaltation as appropriate, with warmth and involvement as needed. Hauk leads the soloists, chorus members and instrumental musicians with a sure and practiced hand, clearly knowing what he wants to achieve with this compilation and making sure that all participants do their part to make the Messa di Gloria and Credo in D as effective as it can be. © 2016 Read complete review

Review Corner, December 2016

…this is a rather inspiring, if intense, work perhaps leaning towards the formulaic in places but engaging nonetheless.

Stirring but earnest. © 2016 Review Corner Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2016

With a few sacred pieces laying about doing nothing, the Johann Mayr champion, Franz Hauk, has combined works by Donizetti and Mayr to form a complete Mass. He uses as his authority the fact that composers of the time regularly plundered their previous works to create a new one that could be sold as an original work. He also has the further thought that Donizetti was championed by Mayr from whom he learned much, and though we now regard Donizetti only as an opera composer, he did in fact, write a prodigious quantity of sacred music, often intended to fill blank spaces in sacred events. So why not, says Hauk, bring four together, add two short sections (the Sanctus and Agnus Dei) by Mayr and, hey-presto, we have a new composition. Does it work? Well, if you want an operatic light-weight and happy sacred Mass, which at times borders on operetta, it does bring much to enjoy with solos and quartets interspersed with a very active part for chorus, while the orchestra enjoys a pivotal role. Four of the soloists—Marie-Sophie Pollak, Marie-Sande Papenmeyer, Mark Alder and Martin Berner—come from Germany, the Norwegian soprano, Siri Karoline Thornhill relishing two challenging solos in the long Gloria. Singers from Munich make up both choruses and perform with that assurance that belies their newcomer status to the music. The studio recording, which stretches the time limit of a CD, has well defined inner detail and ideally balances orchestral solos. The principal clarinet is outstanding in the Gloria’s Domine Deus. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

Records International, December 2016

Donizetti’s church music, consisting of at least a hundred items, has hardly been explored. Individual movements were often later recycled by the composer, in cantata-like fashion to form a complete Mass and it is this ad hoc technique that Franz Hauk has used to create a new work here. This includes an expansive Qui sedes with its violin solo written for the famous violinist-composer Pietro Rovelli, and is completed with movements by Mayr from whom Donizetti learned his compositional craft in settings of sacred texts. © 2016 Records International

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group