Johann Mayr Messa di Gloria – forgotten, but not forgettable

If maestro Frank Hauk had his way, Johann Simon Mayr would be known for more than just being Gaetano Donizetti’s music teacher. Mayr, in his day, was a major figure. He wrote 19 masses, 57 symphonies, over 70 operas — most of which are now all but forgotten.

Is Mayr’s music forgettable? Hauk would disagree. He’s recorded four albums of Mayr’s music. All of these releases have garnered rave reviews and with good reason. Hauk understands Mayr’s music and his directing brings out its potential.

This release is no exception. It presents two Messa di Glorias, both world premiere recordings. Hauk presents these works with the authentic music ensemble Concerto de Bassus and a host of soloists.

Mayr was active in the early 1800s, writing in a lyrical style not far removed from Mendelssohn (at least, that what I hear). Mayr knew how to write for the human voice, both as a solo instrument and in chorus.

The melodies are quite appealing and yield moments of exceptional beauty. Mayr’s choral writing draws on his opera experience. Several times the choruses sounded like they were Act II finales or something.

I admire the skill and effort Hauk (and Naxos) have put into this project. And I think the results are worthy of the effort. These are finely crafted works. Forgotten, yes. Forgettable, I don’t think so.

Johann Simon Mayr: Messa di Gloria in E minor; Messa di Gloria in F minor
Dorota Szczepanska, Anna Feith, soprano; Freya Apffelstaedt, Maria Grazia Insam, alto; Markus Schafer, Fanz Zhi, tenor; Thomas STimmel, Elia Merguet, bass
Simon Mayr Chorus; Concerto de Bassus; Franz Hauk, conductor
Naxos 8.574203 

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