Though it really does go without saying that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote some of the greatest sacred choral music in history – works like the Great C minor Mass, the Coronation Mass, and, above all, the Requiem – as he was such a prolific composer, many of his earlier works often get overshadowed by the later works.
Recognizing this, an all-star team of Latvian musicians came together and recorded the album entitled simply Mozart, which collects some of Mozart’s earlier sacred choral works, and was released in 2014 by the Latvian concert agency Latvijas koncerti. The CD features the world renowned Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir, along with the orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga, soprano Inga Šļubovska, all conducted by long time Boys’ Choir conductor Mārtiņš Klišāns. The CD was also released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Riga Cathedral Choir School in 2014, as well as the 65th anniversary of the Boys’ Choir in 2015.
Almost all of the works contained on the record were written while Mozart was still living in Salzburg, the town of his birth, and prior to moving to Vienna. Though still a teenager, the maturity of these works is evident, and shows a talent and a musical language well beyond his years. In his short life, Mozart revolutionized music, ushering in the Classical era of music, adeptly composing in many different styles, and paving the way for the Romantic era, and influencing composers like Beethoven, Schubert and Rossini, among many other composers throughout the centuries.
Though more and more Latvian singers have become famous on the world stage, Latvian National Opera soprano Inga Šļubovska shows that she is innately suited for the works of Mozart on this CD. Though an early work (composed in 1771), the multi part ‘Regina Coeli’ is still an extremely demanding work of the soloist. Šļubovska sings adeptly and with confidence. Though the vocal parts have coloratura fireworks (perhaps slightly unusual for a serious sacred piece), Šļubovska brings the necessary gravity to the work, her resplendent voice filled with reverence and piety.
Due to the sacred nature of these works, the choir voices are particularly significant, as they need to bring forth the angelic nature of the vocals. With their decades of experience, conductor Mārtiņš Klišāns and the Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir are uniquely positioned to provide memorable interpretations of these works. For example, in the prayer ‘Inter Natos Mulierum’ (composed approximately in 1771, when Mozart was still fifteen years old), the soaring vocals of the boys’ choir give the listener an idea of what a choir of angels should sound like.
Sinfonietta Rīga, a comparatively young chamber orchestra (founded in 2006), has, in its short history, become an internationally well-known group of musicians. Balancing both the classic and modern repertoire, the orchestra has already won the Latvian Great Music Award twice, and has recorded albums for international music labels. Being a chamber orchestra, the musicians provide nuanced and intimate performances of these works by Mozart. This can be seen on the multi part ‘Exultate Jubilate’, composed in 1773, an almost operatic sacred work. Sinfonietta Rīga provides an appropriately celebratory and vivacious performance.
One of the best known works on the record is ‘Laudate Dominum’ (composed in 1780), begins with an achingly beautiful solo performed by Šļubovska, which is then supplemented by the voices of the Boys’ Choir, then brought to a swelling crescendo by Sinfonietta Rīga and conductor Mārtiņš Klišāns. Though a comparatively more reserved work than the others, the beauty and honesty of the piece, especially in the hands of such a talented team of artists, makes this one of the definitive recordings of this classic.
The CD booklet features notes on all the compositions by musicologist Orests Silabriedis and Lauma Malnace, as well as biographies of all the performers, in both Latvian and English.
Though many Latvian musicians focus on modern works, or the best known classical works, the album Mozart is at once both memorable and refreshing, breathing new life into these works that are centuries old. It is a fitting tribute to both the Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir and the Riga Cathedral Choir School’s rich histories and decades of nurturing some of the greatest Latvian singers and musicians. Conductor Mārtiņš Klišāns ably and successfully brings together the vocals of Inga Šļubovska, the Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir, and the gracefully nuanced performance of the orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga to shed new light on these early Mozart works, and the performances are both exquisite and inspiring.
Riga Cathedral Boys’ Choir / Sinfonietta Rīga / Inga Šlubovska / Mārtiņš Klišāns
Produced by Latvijas koncerti, 2014
- Regina Coeli – I. Regina coeli laetare
- Quia quem meruisti portare
- Ora pro nobis Deum
- Inter natos mulierum
- Exultate Jubilate – I. Allegro
- Sancta Maria, mater Dei
- Veni Sancte Spiritus
- Laudate Dominum
- Misericordias Domini
- Ave verum corpus
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