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Spohr, once so much better known, has become one of the largely forgotten composers of the first half of the 19th century when his oratorio The Last Judgement was a popular choice among choral societies. This present disc programmes a cappella settings by Spohr: his C minor Mass, interspersed with three psalm settings in translations by Mendelssohn’s father. The Mass, richly scored for a quintet of soloists and two 5-part choruses, is an attractive composition dating from 1821 in which Spohr’s natural chromatic harmony is allied to Palestrina-like counterpoint. The Psalms op.85 (psalms 8, 23 and 130) are the jewels on this CD – remarkable settings that reveal Bach’s influence. Under the direction of their founder Frieder Bernius, the Kammerchor Stuttgart offers evenly matched vocal resources and a finely distilled, refined blend that releases this music from the page. While one might hanker occasionally for a touch more dynamic range from the ensemble, there is never any sense of strain in their tone. But at just over 50 minutes’ duration, Carus has short-changed us – surely there was something else by Spohr that could have been recorded?

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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