Atlanta Symphony Orchestra August 31 2005

Mozart: Requiem

Those who love the film Amadeus have to get over at least one of several falsehoods incorporated in it: Salieri did not help Mozart finish his famous Requiem. After all, the film is not about Mozart himself, but a fictional account of an aging, demented Salieri's mad ravings about him. What is true is that the ailing Mozart did not finish the work himself. He enlisted Franz Xavier Süssmeyr, one of his former students, to complete it in the event Mozart went tango uniform first — which he did.

Nevertheless, Süssmeyr's completion has been repeatedly attacked as not quite "Mozartean" enough. Many attempts to fix it abound. One of the more recent is the edition by Robert D. Levin, which was chosen by conductor Donald Runnicles for the new recording by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus.

Runnicles' approach is full-bodied, yet warmly classical, closely akin to the best approach to Mozart's operatic writing. The consistently energetic performances neither dwell on romantically languid tempi nor do they assume the turgid mantle of an overly precious historicism. The size of the Chamber Chorus (68 singers), aided by the leaner clarity of Levin's adjustments to Süssmeyr's orchestrations, is appropriate to the Austrian mindset versus a more massive chorus.

It's a spontaneous-sounding rendition, with a good stereo separation that happily allows the music's inner workings to be well heard.