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The Independent Culture

Mozart Requiem. La Chapelle Royale etc/Philippe Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi, CD/tape). Philippe Herreweghe belongs to the radical non-interventionist school of period performance, his reputation built on readings that make their point through striking clarity and freshness rather than self-conscious attempts to boldly go where none have gone before. This Mozart Requiem is a case in point. Other period conductors (Norrington on EMI, Hogwood on Oiseau-Lyre, Goodman on Nimbus) take the line that Sussmayr's completions to the score were never up to scratch, and to varying degrees discard them for alternative reconstructions. Herreweghe prefers to leave well alone, in the reasonable belief that Mozart's pupil was, for all his shortcomings, in a better position to know what Mozart wanted than any latter-day musicologist. The result is a radiantly beautiful reading that lets the music speak for itself: unlaboured, with a softer edge than Eliot Gardiner's similarly unamended version on DG but no less power or presence. The soloists - including Ian Bostridge and a young, dark-focused German baritone, Hanno Muller-Brachmann - are well chosen. This stands beside Herreweghe's other choral releases on Harmonia Mundi as one of the most pleasing modern readings of its repertory on disc. Michael White


Van Morrison: The Healing Game (Polydor, CD/LP/tape). As albums beginning with the words "The mud-splattered victims" go, this is solid and gentle, with Ol' Grumble Voice ruminating about how it was more fun to sing on a Belfast street corner than to be a superstar. The rhythm'n'blues orchestra furnishes a thick, warm, live sound and there is only one song on which uilleann pipes take over from the tenor sax, the harmonica and the Hammond. Easy listening it may be, but who else could make it seem easy to knock out soulful instant classics like "Sometimes We Cry" or "It Once Was My Life"? Nicholas Barber


Charles Mingus: Mingus Revisited (Verve, CD). Re-release for an essential yet elusive album from 1960 (originally titled Pre-Bird), with some of the most moving music ever composed in any genre. Highlights include two swinging nonet versions of Ellington band tunes ("'A' Train" and "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me"), two odd, ethereal vocal numbers ("Eclipse" and "Weird Nightmare"), and the incredible "Bemoanable Lady", a gorgeous, Ellington-hued ballad played by a full jazz orchestra and featuring a weeping alto saxophone solo by Eric Dolphy. "Half Moon Inhibition" is a full-on Third Stream classical concerto conducted by Gunther Schuller, and probably the best of all jazz dalliances with straight music. If you buy only one jazz album all year, this should be it. Phil Johnson