Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Vesperae solennes de confessore for soloists, chorus & orchestra, K. 339

    Description by Brian Robins

    Famed for the beauty of its solo soprano aria Laudate Dominum (Psalm 116), the Vesperae solennes de confessore is the second of two settings of the early evening Vespers service composed by Mozart for liturgical use in Salzburg Cathedral. Both date from shortly after the composer returned from the abortive trip to Paris which witnessed the death of his mother, a period which also saw the composition of two important masses, "Coronation" Mass, K. 317, and the Mass in C, K. 337. The first, the Vesperae solennes de Dominica in C, K. 321 dates from 1779, the present work from 1780. Like its predecessor, K. 339 follows the standard Catholic liturgy in including the Magnificat and the five psalms utilized in the Vespers service. In addition to the concluding Laudate Dominum they are as follows: Dixit Dominus (Ps. 109), Confitebur tibi (Ps. 110), Beatus vir (Ps. 111), and Laudate pueri (Ps. 112). In liturgical context, the Magnificat and each of the psalms were prefaced and followed by a plainsong antiphon. The two settings are identically scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soloists and chorus, with an orchestration including bassoon, two trumpets, three trombones, strings, and organ. The addition "de confessore" (not Mozart's own) suggests that the work may have been employed for a saint's day, although no specific connection has been established. "Solennes," incidentally, simply indicates that the work has orchestral accompaniment. As in the earlier setting, Mozart composed some of his boldest Salzburg church music in the first three psalms, while Laudate pueri, like the parallel movement in K. 321, is an exercise in strict, old-fashioned counterpoint, a movement in total contrast to the tranquil radiant beauty of Laudate Dominum. Here Mozart does vary from K. 321 in allowing the choir to steal in quietly halfway through. More than in the Salzburg masses, the two Vespers settings reveal a personal side of Mozart's approach to sacred music. To Alfred Einstein, "anyone who does not know such settings does not know Mozart." Two years after Mozart settled in Vienna in 1781, he wrote to ask his father to send the two Vespers settings to him in order that he could perform them to Baron van Swieten, the eccentric nobleman who had introduced him to the works of Bach and Handel.

    Parts/Movements

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

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Erato 0190295872533
    2017 Decca 4831252
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4812662
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646480791
    2014 BIS BIS 2091
    2014 MDG Gold
    2013 Entertainment Group 14177
    2013 Elatus 61298
    2013 Decca 4785601
    2013 Decca
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94659
    2012 The Entertainment Group 107488
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4779967
    2012 Carus CARUS 83316
    2012 Ave Maria University
    2011 X5 Music Group
    2011 Naxos 857819697
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94264
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94211
    2011 Decca
    2011 Delphian DCD 34102
    2010 Teldec 256467611
    2009 Multimedia San Paolo / Zebralution
    2009 Teldec 2564692597
    2009 Carus 83249
    2008 Coro 16057
    2008 Delta / Zebralution
    2008 Laserlight / Zebralution
    2008 Thorofon Classics / Zebralution
    2008 Philips 4646602
    2007 EMI Classics 87894
    2007 Archipel 392
    2006 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon / Philips / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Coviello / Coviello Classics 30607
    2006 Philips 4757058
    2006 Brilliant Classics 92113
    2006 MDG 9321346
    2006 Philips
    2006 Naxos 8557978
    2005 Warner Classics 4623372
    2005 MDG 3321346
    2005 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775756
    2005 Brilliant 92540
    2003 Brilliant 99737
    2002 Disques Pierre Verany 730058
    2002 Carus 83401
    2001 Haenssler 98395
    2000 Decca 467 416-2DEQ
    2000 Philips 000586602
    2000 Naxos 8 554158
    1999 AR-Express / Ariola Express 74321670542
    1999 Testament 1159
    1999 Teldec 21885
    1999 Philips 426275
    1998 Decca 4583792
    1996 Accord 201662
    1996 Vox Box 5524
    1995 Erato 10705
    1995 Decca
    1994 Archiv Produktion 445353
    1993 Decca
    1993 L'Oiseau-Lyre 436585
    1993 Erato 45940
    1991 Decca 430157
    1991 Philips 422 520-2PME5
    1991 Harmonia Mundi 907021
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 749672-2
    1985 Philips 4128732
    Sony Music Distribution 45977
    Brilliant 92631
    Accord 220252
    Vienna Classics
    Teldec 72479
    Hungaroton 12235
    Discover 920260
    Brilliant Classics 92113/4
    Brilliant 92631/4
    Brilliant 99737/4
    Russian Revelation 10008
    La Forbo Giubiasco
    Musical Heritage 5153266