"Uwe Christian Harrer's performance of Mozart Choral works with the Vienna Boys Choir, members of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, and members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra is nothing short of miraculous. Filmed in two beautiful Vienna churches, one of them formerly the Chapel of the Imperial Palace, these are truly beautiful Video/Audio experiences. Mozart's music is well served: the Vienna Choir Boys sing the soprano and alto parts, with tenor and bass parts sung by the men of the Vienna State Opera Chorus.
Harrer sets sensible tempos, and is animated with the music, but not an interpreter who calls attention to himself, a la Bernstein, Solti, Stokowski, or Tennstedt. He is a SERVANT of the music, giving clear direction and very sensible beats, and a great sense of ensemble results from his direction. Harrer emphasizes the choral textures of Mozart's writing, here in the early Waisenhaus Mass in C minor (recorded here in 1988), written when Mozart was just 12 years old! All of this work may not be top drawer Mozart, but Harrer and his forces do just about what can be done with it. There are varied solos for boy soprano and alto, and tenor and bass, which alternate with fugal/polyphonic and homophonic full chorus textures, introductory and alternating choral parts. The "Gloria" and "Credo" movements are in several alternating sections, and stick less in my mind than the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Camera work in excellent, catching the various choir sections singing at a given moment, or the 1st violins, trumpet or trombone when they have an important part.
The shorter choral works, recorded in 1990, deal with the adoration of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ - very important in the Roman Catholic liturgy and theology in Austria during Mozart's time (Moreso than today, since Vatican II, 1962-65) and also the adoration of the Host: the consecrated bread, believed by Roman Catholics to be Christ's true body in the Mass. These are all works unfamiliar to me (except the closing "Ave Verum Corpus") but are very beautiful, showing a wonderful sacred side of Mozart, a real contrast to his operas, for example,"The Marriage of Figaro" and "Don Giovanni".
I hope there are more DVD recordings forthcoming from the Vienna Boys Choir under Mr. Harrer. Excellent digital stereo sound, and wonderful picture quality (full screen, 4:3) make this a great experience. I nearly wept during the closing "Ave Verum Corpus," a quiet homophonic anthem of adoration to the crucified body of Christ. The accompaniment of a chamber orchestra makes this a more beautiful experience than I realized was possible. Yes, Mozart's music is well served here! In a word, "GLORIOUS!""
Excellent Mozart Choral Works DVD
James R. Fraley | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mozart's choral works are among the finest but least celebrated of the composer's incredible legacy. In this audio and video treasure, we get to hear and see some of these performed by the incomparable Vienna Boys Choir in two historical settings in the old city in which Mozart spent so much of his creative life. The camera work is superb, blending first class musical performances with scenes from the locations where they were done.
What is needed now is an updated version of these, or other Mozart choral works, done by the Vienna Boys Choir. While the DVD faithfully portrays the gorgeous sights and sounds of the original performances, they were done in 1988 and 1990. Undoubtedly, the Vienna Boys Choir is still up to the standard shown in those years. The boys and Mozart deserve another and more recent recording session."
Great music, disappointing video quality
Sailor | South Pacific | 03/22/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Of course the music from the Vienna Boys Choir was great..... but I was very disappointed with the poor resolution of the video.
Perhaps it was full screen cut out of a wide screen recording, blowing up a smaller part of the original to the extent that it was no longer sharp, or perhaps it was just a poor resolution recording or perhaps simply poor translation from the recording to the DVD. I don't know.
But in any case, I am disappointed by the image quality and I regret not having simply bought an audio CD. For the price of the DVD I could have had a couple of the Vienna Boys' Choir's other audio CDs."
Superior-Voice Boy Soprano
Go for Baroque | Denver | 03/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These recordings (well reviewed elswhere) may be from 1988 & 1990, but this is the best Wiener Sangerknaben DVD I've found, certainly far better than the 2006 DVD "A Mozart Celebration" with its disappointing boy and adult soloists. A now-better-known soloist Max Emanuel Cencic, noted for his stunning technique, makes a brief appearance only. His later solo CD plus his adult countertenor CDs now are available. The most beautiful boy's voice I've ever heard, however, (the "Gundula Janowitz" of boys) was Steven Mockel who sang 1st Soprano in Sub Tuum Praesidium, K198 along with Alfred Halbartschlager. Steven's singing avoids the thin sound, weakness, and uneveness too often associated with boys' voices. His full, warm, solid sound is superior to all other whom I've heard in all my years. This DVD is well worth having just for this. I have found no other recordings of this angelic voice, although ironically this one piece appears on Cencic's solo CD."
Nothing but a MIRACLE!!
Fran | California, USA | 12/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Music, cameras, audio, performers, director, settings ... everything put perfectly together here like one of Mozart's compositions!! I enjoy so much Max Emanuel Cencic's performance especially in the 'Gloria'. He has such a beautiful soprano voice! Also the two angels that sing in a duet the 'Sub tuum Praesidium, K 198'. And in general all the children in the choir!! Thanks to Mr Harrer for such a fine job. I just can hope that there will be more of this kind of productions in the future with the Vienna Boys' Choir... another miracle!"