Anthony Kearns performed
in Mozart's "Great" Mass in
the Mozart Anniversary Concert
at the National Concert Hall in
Dublin on January 28, 2006.
Mozart began work on the C Minor Mass in the summer of 1782.
He had just married one of the Weber sisters, Constanze, and his
father was not exactly in favor of the marriage. So to placate his father,
Mozart promised to write a Mass, and bring it to Salzburg, when he
brought his new wife to meet his father. Actually, Constanze sang
the soprano part when it was performed. The Mass was written for 4
soloists (soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor, and bass), and the first
performance took place in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter on
August 26, 1783. Probably the most famous piece in the Mass is
the soprano's "Et Incarnatus Est" ("...and was incarnate by the Holy
Ghost...and was made man.") Not surprising, since it was written with
Constanze in mind. It's one of the most beautiful and most difficult
pieces in all of music. Apparently Constanze was up to the demands.
There is another aria, sung by the mezzo-soprano-"Laudamus Te."
(We Praise Thee.) This aria is frequently sung in concerts, and lies
rather high so often it is sung by a soprano, rather than by the lower
voice. There is also a lovely duet for the soprano and mezzo-soprano,
called "Domine Deus" (Lord God). There is a very florid trio for the
soprano, mezzo-soprano, and tenor- the "Quoniam" (For Thou only art
holy, Thou only art the Lord.) As in most of Mozart's music, it requires
a smooth, even legato, solid vocal technique, and excellent high notes.
In some versions of the Mass, there is a tenor solo with chorus-"Et in
Spiritum Sanctum," but since it was not in the original version it's not
always performed. The Mass closes with a wonderful "Benedictus" and
the spirited "Osana." (Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.) This is written for the 4 solo voices, and has
lots of coloratura for the tenor as well as for the 2 female voices. One of
the prime requisites for singing Mozart's music (and singing it well) is
evenness of tone throughout the singer's range. Mozart's music frequently
jumps from below middle C all the way up to high A in one measure, and
the singer must be able to negotiate those great leaps precisely, easily,
and with beauty of tone. The music of Mozart, while sublimely beautiful,
is far from "a walk in the park." The Mass in C Minor is thought to be
the most ambitious and elaborate of Mozart's church works. At the time
he wrote it, Mozart was studying the works of Bach, and was very
interested in Bach's use of counterpoint. It's for that reason that the
Great Mass in C Minor is thought to be the single most elaborate,
complex and difficult of all the Mozart vocal works.
GREAT MASS IN C MINOR
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart