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Vesperae solennes de Dominica, K321
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'Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works' (CDA67921)
Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works
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'Mozart: Exsultate jubilate! & other works' (CDA30012)
Mozart: Exsultate jubilate! & other works
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Movement 1: Dixit Dominus
Movement 2: Confitebor tibi
Movement 3: Beatus vir
Movement 4: Laudate pueri
Movement 5: Laudate Dominum
Movement 6: Magnificat

Vesperae solennes de Dominica, K321
Alongside the regular celebration of the Eucharist, the other service which required large-scale musical input was the Office of Vespers, consisting of five Psalms and the ‘Magnificat’. Mozart wrote two complete settings for Vespers (although he never set the opening Response nor the Antiphons which are used to frame the Psalms and Canticle). The Vesperae solennes de Dominica (K321) or ‘Sunday Vespers’ could be used on many of the Sundays throughout the year, unless a particular feast day or season required the use of a different set of texts. Scored for four soloists and chorus, Mozart once again uses trombones to double the lower chorus parts. The strings (without violas) play throughout but trumpets and timpani are added to the first Psalm and the ‘Magnificat’ for extra solemnity.

‘Dixit Dominus’ is grand and imposing, complete with dogmatic statements from both choir and instruments, whilst the second Psalm, ‘Confitebor tibi’, is a serious-sounding movement in E minor with the chorus replying to the soprano soloist. The next three Psalms display radically different styles. ‘Beatus vir’ is more brilliant and more operatic in its writing whilst the fourth Psalm ‘Laudate pueri’ is the complete opposite; a ‘stile antico’ canon, with an alla breve swing and without the use of soloists. Also in juxtaposition is the graceful and operatic ‘Laudate Dominum’ for soprano solo and organ obbligato, the perfect change of style before the dramatic coup of the ‘Magnificat’ which begins with a slow, solemn introduction before launching into a vigorous allegro.

It is almost as if Mozart is demonstrating the whole range of his musical genius here with radically different styles for each movement. All of these composed elements of Vespers would originally have been separated by Antiphons, sung to plainchant, and it is clear from the choice of keys—C major, E minor, B flat major, F major, A major and C major respectively—that the Antiphons would provide a musical link between the Psalms. However Mozart once again shows his dramatic genius and his clear sense of narrative. These individual Psalm movements are so ordered that there is a real dramatic progression, a musical journey which goes through a variety of regions before culminating in an almost symphonic setting of the ‘Magnificat’. It was this deep understanding of drama, this ability to lead with a clear sense of the effect that his music would have on the listener which allowed Mozart to write great opera and this, his great gift, is clearly seen first in his music for the church.

from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2012

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Details for CDA67921 track 13
Confitebor tibi
Recording date
12 July 2011
Recording venue
St Giles' Cripplegate, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood
Recording engineer
Martin Haskell
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  1. Mozart: Missa solemnis & other works (CDA67921)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: June 2012
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