Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Vesperae de Dominica, for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 321

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Also known as Vesperae solennes de Dominica (Solemn Vespers for Sunday), this work was written in accordance with strictures imposed by Salzburg Archbishop Colloredo, strictures Mozart was not particularly fond of, as they bleached church music of operatic styles and brought it largely into conformity with Neapolitan models. But the versatile Mozart could produce masterworks under the most unfavorable conditions, as he did here. The work is scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists and choir and chamber ensemble.

    Vesperae de Dominica is made up of five Psalm settings and a concluding Magnificat, each movement lasting around four minutes. The opening Dixit Dominus (The Lord Spoke; in C major) imparts a sense of seraphic glee in its energetic character and features some finely imagined contrapuntal vocal writing. The ensuing Confitebor (I will confess; E minor) is troubled in its darker manner, with moderately lively pacing and a feeling of urgency permeating the music. This is one of the more profound movements in this work, and features brilliantly conceived exchanges between the soloists and choir, exchanges that ratchet up the sense of tension.

    Beatus Vir (Blessed is the man; B flat major) is bright and lively, again featuring imaginative contrapuntal writing for the soloists and choir. Here the music is joyous and offers needed contrast to the angst predominant in the preceding movement. The Laudate pueri (Praise the Lord, servants; F major) that follows is deliberate in its pacing and more neutral in its emotional temperament, while still imparting a glorious and devotional feeling. In the latter half the music takes on a somewhat tender and consoling character.

    Laudate Dominum (Praise the Lord; A major) is mostly relaxed and conveys an elegant manner in the challenging and colorful soprano solo part that dominates this movement. While this music does not have the character of an aria, it nevertheless might well be viewed as being somewhat at odds with Archbishop Colloredo's church music constraints. The glorious Magnificat (Give praise; C major) concludes the work in a most uplifting fashion. Here the music exudes joy and at times mixes a beautifully angelic sense with a jaunty, almost unbuttoned confidence.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Dixit Dominus
    2. Confitebor
    3. Beatus vir
    4. Laudate pueri
    5. Laudate Dominum
    6. Magificat

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Argo / Decca / London
    2017 Decca 4831252
    2013 Teldec 246469
    2013 Novum NCR 1388
    2012 Hyperion CDA 67921
    2012 Carus CARUS 83316
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94264
    2011 Decca
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Teldec 256467611
    2008 Philips 4646602
    2007 Myto Records 6001
    2006 Hyperion 67560
    2006 Brilliant Classics 92113
    2006 Philips
    2005 Warner Classics 4623372
    2005 Brilliant 92540
    2003 Brilliant 99737
    2002 Carus 83401
    2000 Philips 000586602
    2000 Naxos 8 554158
    1999 Teldec 21885
    1998 Decca 4583792
    1991 Philips 422 520-2PME5
    1991 Teldec 46469
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 749672-2
    1986 Centaur Records 2074
    Decca 430162
    Brilliant 92631
    Studio SM 2518
    K 617 7028
    Brilliant 99737/4
    Brilliant 92631/4
    Brilliant Classics 92113/4
    Musical Heritage 5153266