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The repertoire choices here seem curiously conservative, considering the course of Jordi Savall's career in recent years. The answer to that conundrum lies in the date of recording – 1991. Back then, Savall was a much more mainstream kind of period performance performer, so a disc of Mozart's Requiem would have seemed like a logical choice for him, especially given that the year marked the bicentenary of the composer's death.Even back then he was a radical, and what makes this recording prophetic is the relaxed way that the period performance conventions are applied. In the early 90s, there was still a lingering sense of academic earnestness about most period instrument performance, but Jordi Savall demonstrates the value of a light touch, which has since more or less become the convention. In the context of the Mozart Requiem, that sits uneasily with the gravity of the subject, although it serves to highlight the Classical elegance that is never far from the surface in Mozart's music. There are no super-fast tempos here, at least by period performance standards, the Rex tremendae is the only movement that seems a shade faster than comfortable. Subtle dynamics rather than rubato are used to shape the soloists phrases, and despite the almost playful atmosphere, closer listening reveals an impressive discipline in the tempos, balance and ornamentation.
Maurerische Trauermusik, K.477 (Ode funebre)
La Cappella Reyal de Catalunya
Le Concert des Nations
dir. Jordi Savall