Record of the day: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "Krönungsmesse"

Record of the day: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Krönungsmesse”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Messe C-Dur KV 317 «Krönungsmesse» (Cd DG 429820-2)

With the exception of the “Requiem” and the “Ave Verum Corpus”, Mozart’s sacred production still does not enjoy particular concert success. The “Church Sonatas” are rarely performed, just as the marvelous “Vespers” are little known to the general public: even more neglected are the numerous Masses (not to mention splendid pieces such as the “Litaniae Lauretanae” KV 195 or the “Regina coeli” KV 127).

Judged for decades as minor and mannered works, Mozart’s Masses have suffered for too long from the typically romantic prejudice which saw the composer as a child too fond of swear words and the good life to be able to draw on the depth spiritual required by this type of composition. Mozart’s declared anticlericalism was also used to demonstrate the lack of sincerity in his religious output; but as Giovanni Carli Ballola rightly pointed out “the sincere Catholicism of the Mozarts, precisely as such, did not exclude that unscrupulous critical spirit that has always distinguished the authentic man of faith from the Tartuffe”.

Even an authentic miracle like the unfinished Mass in C Major KV 427 was considered a sublime “work of occasion” composed for one’s wedding and not much more; Stravinsky also completely missed the mark when, referring to the Masses, he spoke of “delightful rococo sins”.

Music criticism in more recent years, wisely, has begun to overturn these statements to reconsider them
masterpieces with the respect they deserve.
Nothing superficial inhabits these pages of almost superhuman beauty, and the album I propose to you today is an example of
absolute quality; includes the grandiose “Coronation Mass” KV 317, composed in 1779 for the Maria Plain Sanctuary near Salzburg, and the much less known “Missa brevis” KV 220 (also called the “Sparrow Mass” due to the acciaccature design of the violins present in the “Sanctus”, which brought to mind the singing of these birds to some imaginative commentators of the time).

The album also includes the motet “Exultate, jubilate” KV 165 entrusted to the beautiful voice of Edith Mathis, while the quality of the orchestral direction is guaranteed by names of proven excellence such as Herbert Von Karajan, Berhard Klee and Rafael Kubelik.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.