Sunday, March 19, 2017

Vespers: Solemn Vespers


The Concentus Musicus Wien performs "Vesperae solennes de confessore" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

This group is an Austrian baroque music ensemble based in Vienna. The CMW is recognized as a progenitor of the period-instrument performance movement. It was founded in 1953 with several musicians from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. The CMW did research and rehearsal for 4 years before their first official concert.

Mozart composed this work for liturgical use in the Salzburg Cathedral. The title "de confessore" was not Mozart's own, and was added by a later hand to his manuscript. It suggests that the work was intended for vespers held on a specific day on the liturgical calendar of saints ("confessors"); however, the saint in question has not been conclusively established. This was Mozart's final choral work composed for the cathedral.

Mozart’s religious music is actually the least important part of his output. His relations to the church were troubled, and unlike Bach he lived in a milieu where the profoundest ideas of the time were not practiced in church. At the same time there are remarkable, profound church works that will never be forgotten. While in the service of the unpleasant and autocratic Archbishop Colloredo, Bishop of Salzburg, Mozart bridled at his official duties and wrote some of his most remarkably ho-hum works. His very last Salzburg liturgical work, the "Vesperae solennes de Confessore" (Solemn Vespers) K. 339, is, however, a masterpiece and is a foreshadowing of the two great unfinished religious works of his Vienna period, the Mass in C Minor and the Requiem.


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