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Neukomm would be largely forgotten if it weren’t for Jean- Claude Malgoire (a true believer), who has also recorded an earlier Requiem, written for Prince Talleyrand in memory of the guillotined Louis XVI (and premiered with Salieri as co-conductor). The Missa solemnis, one of 50 Masses that he composed in a long career, was for John VI of Portugal and premiered in Rio de Janeiro in 1818, which gives some sense of where the composer’s political sympathies may have lain. Perhaps this is why he is forgotten. The music always seems to strain for courtly effect and grandeur, but is often betrayed by wobbly architecture and too much gilt. The St Andrews singers and conductors give a convincing interpretation of the earlier Mass, the main piece and the only choral work on this historically themed set, which centres on the Congress of Vienna and the wholesale reconstruction of Europe: hardly a recherché theme in 2018! Also on the disc are two pieces for trombone and brass ensemble – Ernst Sachse’s Concertino in B flat major and Alexandre Guilmant’s Morceau Symphonique – plus the Adagio from Jean Bellon’s Quintette no.12. An intriguing and unexpected selection.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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