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Johann Fux (1660–1741) and Johann Kerll (1627–1693) were Kapellmeister and organist respectively of the Stephansdom in Vienna. The sleeve note by Jérôme Lejeune for this release makes much of the fact that Mozart may well have come across these two requiems in the library of the Stephansdom. Should they be seen as background to Mozart’s own famously unfinished Requiem? Mozart’s musical education would certainly have embraced the standard instruction in counterpoint found in Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassum.

Kerll’s 1689 Missa pro defunctis is dedicated to the Emperor Leopold I but is reckoned to represent the composer’s reflections on his own mortality — he died only four years later. Fux’s 1720 Kaiserrequiem was written for the funeral of the by now late Leopold I’s wife, Eleonora de Gonzaga, and was then heard at a succession of court funerals.

No questioning the evidence here of the outstanding quality of Vox Luminis – nor of the talents of individual singers from the ensemble who tackle the plentiful solo passages which both works throw up. Sensitive accompaniments are provided by Scorpio Collectief and L’Achéron. However, the historical interest of the two requiems isn’t matched by the level of musical invention and emotional depth they exhibit. The Kerll work is the more affecting of the pair, perhaps because it is indeed something of a personal statement. The recordings were made in separate Belgian churches in Wallonia: the sound is immaculate, capturing the sense of space the venues offer but with detail never obscured.

Andrew Green Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing