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Missa in C major 'Missa solemnis', K337
composer
March 1780
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Recordings
'Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works' (CDA67921)
Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works
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Details
Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus
Movement 5: Benedictus
Movement 6: Agnus Dei

Missa in C major 'Missa solemnis', K337
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The Missa in C major (‘Missa solemnis et brevis’, K337) is the last Mass-setting written for Salzburg, and indeed the last Mass which the composer completed. It bears the date March 1780 as does the Epistle Sonata (K336) which, almost certainly, is a companion piece. Masses in Salzburg are usually described either as ‘longa’ (‘long’) or ‘brevis’ (‘short’) but this setting is yet another form. It is ‘brevis’ in that it is quite efficient, but Mozart also uses the title ‘solemnis’ (‘solemn’) indicating its suitability for a grand occasion and highlighting the augmented instrumentation. The Mass is scored for strings (without violas) and has three trombone parts doubling the alto, tenor and bass parts of the chorus, but it is further enhanced by trumpets, timpani, oboes and bassoons.

The first three movements of K337 are in a style of which the Archbishop would most certainly have approved. The ‘Kyrie’ has a rather subdued opening but one which is solemn and penitential (not always the case in settings from this period). The ‘Gloria’ stands in contrast with its bustling instrumental writing and energetic choral parts and moves through the text at some speed. Only in the final ‘Amen’ does Mozart allow himself a little liberty with two coloratura sections for the soprano soloist. The ‘Credo’ continues the energetic mood and uses a rondo-like form with Mozart repeating an infectious swinging motif throughout the movement. After the ‘Credo’ things begin to change as Mozart starts to assert his own musical priorities as well as perhaps making a pointed gesture at Colloredo. The Archbishop had no time for fugues in music which could be lengthy and involved repetition of the text: he also disliked extended solos such as those sung by great divas in the opera houses. The ‘Sanctus’ begins in a solemn style but leads to a rather cheeky ‘Osanna’. For the ‘Benedictus’ there is a real change of direction as Mozart uses a serious-sounding fugue in A minor and unusually makes no use of the soloists before the return of the ‘Osanna’. Even more mischievously, he writes a gorgeous aria in the contrasting key of E flat major for the ‘Agnus Dei’, one that belongs more to the world of opera than to that of church music, and which also features an obbligato organ part and exquisite oboe and bassoon writing.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2012

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67921 track 1
Kyrie
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-12-92101
Duration
3'14
Recording date
12 July 2011
Recording venue
St Giles' Cripplegate, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Recording engineer
Martin Haskell
Hyperion usage
  1. Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works (CDA67921)
    Disc 1 Track 1
    Release date: June 2012
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