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David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2020

Naxos continue their revivification of the music of Johann Simon Mayr with a reconstruction of a Mass from 1843 completed in the two years leading to his death.

It is all too easy to become overly enthusiastic in welcoming a newly discovered work, but Mayr’s great Mass in E flat strikes me as one of the most outstanding sacred works of that era. At the same time I would express gratitude to Franz Hauk who has been much involved in creating a performing score and conducts this first recording. It comes as part of his on-going and ground-breaking series of Mayr releases that he is masterminding for Naxos.  As was often the custom at the time, this work started out as a church Mass consisting of a Kyrie, Gloria and Credo, that would have been later enlarged by the addition of sacred vocal works composed at much the same time. The resulting score for a quartet of soloists, chorus and orchestra extends to some eighty-six minutes, long dramatic sections spaced by passages of melodic and lyric beauty. The tenor, Markus Schafer, who has already contributed much to this series, offers a beautiful and smoothly shaped Et in terra that leads into the Gratias agimus given to the warm bass voice of Daniel Ochoa together with a virtuoso French horn solo from an unnamed member of the excellent Concerto de Bassus. That department is equally prominent in the subsequent extended Domine Deus. The florid Polish soprano, Dorota Szczepanska, makes her debut in this series of Mayr discs in the Qui sedes, and from therein all the performers are involved in the final eight sections containing an outgoing joy in the Et resurrexit, and a suitably resolute final Agnus Dei. The chorus, formed from a mix of Munich’s professional and student singers, is both deeply committed and of very good quality, words that would be equally appropriate to the period instrument orchestra. No doubt the enthusiasm from all concerned is that generated by Hauk, who has a recording team that marries the weight required, while retaining an inner clarity that perfectly balances the performers. You will already have realised this has all been squeezed onto one disc and at budget price. Remarkable! © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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