Mozart : Great Mass in C minor K4272009 (Audio)
Director: Nicol Matt
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Coro de Cámara de Europa
Mozart commenced work on this Mass without the usual commission. In fact he said he was writing it to celebrate his marriage to Constanze, who was also pregnant with their first child. Constanze was a singer of considerable ability, and the soprano part in this Mass is technically very difficult. We know from the diary of Mozart’s sister Nannerl that Constanze did sing the work.
The music in this Mass far outstrips that of any previous setting Mozart had written. First, it is on a scale hitherto unheard of. Secondly, the harmonic and contrapuntal elements display a daring and brilliance that are remarkable even by this composer’s standards. Thirdly, unlike the previous Masses, this work has a distinctly personal feel to it. The music is very emotional, sometimes anguished, and often staggeringly beautiful.
At this time in his life, Mozart was a happy man. However, the Mass was never completed. We have the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus. The Credo is only partial, and the Agnus Dei missing altogether. Why did Mozart abandon it? A cooling of his faith or love perhaps?
The baby Raimund Leopold died on 19 August 1783, and on 25 August the completed parts of the Mass were performed with Constanze taking part. Nannerl’s diary records the concert, and that her brother left afterwards. He lived another eight years, but this was the last time brother and sister ever saw each other.
Mozart rescued most of the music to set to Italian words in the oratorio Davidde penitente. The great C minor torso stands as one of his supreme masterpieces.