John Nelson conducts Mozart

John Nelson conducts Mozart

There is something very special about John Nelson. His work at Strasbourg has regularly transformed that orchestra into a world-class ensemble; his Berlioz recordings are as important as Sir Colin Davis', and yet they have little currency in comparison.

Here he is inMozart, a disc featuring the first recording of th new Bärenreiter edition prepared by Michael Ostrzyga. But first, a lovely performance of the Ave Verum Corpus, flowing, beautiful from the small-scale Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne. This is a live performance (the entire disc is for the Thèâtre de Beaulieu in Lausanne on February 9, 2023):

The intimacy is divine in this late Mozart piece (1791). It is complemented by the better-known Exsultate, Jubilate, K 165 for back in 1773. This has ben recorded by a raft of major sopranos. here, it is Marie Lys, a singer very active at Versailles and repeatedly featured on their releases. I have, I confess, heard her in finer form than this; but her agility is never in doubt.

It is though for the Requiem that one might purchase this, and Nelson is at his best here. The tread of the opening “Introit{ is beautifully judged, the wind lines snaking, the choir powerful yet not overbearing. This is dynamic, but there is transparency, too:

The "Kyrie" is brisk and invigorating, choral envies first judged (and enthusiastic!), instrumental doublings with voices carefully calibrated:

The Dies irae might not shake the Heavens, but it has a whole lot of enthusiasm. When it comes to the “Tuba mirum”Hanno Müller-Brachmann is a nicely focused bass

Lys blends in nicely to the solo group in the Requiem well, as we hear just before the choral outburst at “Rex tremendæ”. It is Nelson's view of the “Recordare” that is so impressive, soloists and orchestra working as one to honour his vision. The music moves, there is beauty, but also an urgency:

Admittedly the choir in the “Confutatis” might have been tidied up in the studio; but how powerful the half-voice “Voca me”. And while the “Sanctus” is not a blaze of light, I do like the separations between statements of that word at the opening:

It is the glowering clouds Nelson elicits from his forces in the “Agnus Dei” that really impress, though:

The disc may be purchased from Amazon here. Streaming links below:

Requiem in D minor KV 626 | IDAGIO
Listen to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem in D minor KV 626, performed by John Nelson, Marie Lys, Beth Taylor, Cyrille Dubois, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne. Discover and compare alternative recordings.