Saturday, 9 August 2008

140. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Mass in C minor, "Great" (1783)


Title: Great Mass in C minor
Performer: Sylvia McNair, Monteverdi Choir
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1988
Length: 55 minutes


We have been a long time with no Sacred music on this list, and that only makes the contrast between this and late Baroque music all the greater. Mozart brings a lot of what he learned from Handel and Bach as well as what he learned from composing opera to this.

The operatic flavour of the mass makes it all the more impressive and much less dry, coloraturas abound in the soloist parts mixed in with amazing choir work and orchestration that is more to the front than in other sacred works before this.

This makes for a fascinating work, beautiful, delicate and powerful where needed, it is definitely one of the most beautiful pieces of sacred music to have graced our list until now. I saw this live as a very young child in the Cathedral of my home town, a Romano-Gothic building from the 1100s and it marked me then. It still impresses me now. Spectacular music.

Final Grade



The Mass was written as a result of a vow Mozart made with himself in relation to his wife Constanze and his father Leopold and their strained relationship. The Mass was first performed in the Church of St. Peter's Abbey in Salzburg on 26 October 1783. The premiere took place in its natural context of a Roman Catholic mass, and the performers were members of the "Hofmusik", that is the musicians employed at the court of Salzburg's ruler, Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo. There was a rehearsal in the nearby Kapellhaus on 23 October.

Kyrie Eleison:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Such a fabulous work! The haunting, plaintive strings and soaring vocals. One doesn't just hear this piece, you feel it in your soul!