Mozart | Requiem Mass in D Minor

 

2.30pm Sunday 2 August

St Patrick's Church, East Gosford

Book online | No booking fee

 

PERFORMANCE OF MOZART’S HAUNTING REQUIEM MASS

 

Central Coast Chorale presents Mozart’s unfinished masterpiece, Requiem Mass in D minor at St Patrick's Church, East Gosford at 2.30pm Sunday 2 August.

 

For this one-time presentation, the forty-voice Chorale led by music director, Christopher Bowen OAM will be accompanied by a premier 25-piece orchestra and four exceptional soloists.

 

Bowen says of the program, “Mozart’s Requiem was a centrepiece in the Academy Award winning film Amadeus, and is one of the greatest pieces in the choral repertoire.”

 

Bowen describes Mozart as a “choral-writing genius,” and the first half of the program features his Sub tuum praesidium KV 198, Ergo interest, an quis KV 143 and Litaniae Lauretanae KV 109.

 

In a modern contrast and in keeping with the Chorale’s support of Australian composers, Central Coast locals, Elke Hook and Shayne Leslie will perform the world premiere of Shayne Leslie's Antiphon (2015) for two high voices and chamber orchestra. The text is written by Hildegard of Bingen and is the first song from Leslie's Songs of the Feminine Divine, a three piece song cycle based on the texts of women mystics.

 

The second half of the program features the superb Requiem KV 626. Soloists are Elke Hook (soprano), Catherine O’Doherty (alto), Richard Butler (tenor) and Daniel Macey (baritone).

 

The chamber orchestra boasts professional players from the Australian Opera and Ballet orchestras. Litaniae Lauretanae is a special performance sung by members of the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir with soloists Angela Lim, Catherine O’Doherty, Dominic She and Kirk Hume.

 

Mozart died in 1791 before the Requiem was finished. He knew his own death was imminent and allegedly left detailed notes as to how the Requiem was to be completed. Much intrigue surrounds the piece. It was revealed that the Requiem was an anonymous commission from a wealthy Count wanting to pass the composition off as his own. 

 

Historical Perspective

The unique circumstances surrounding the composition of Mozart’s Requiem are remarkable for their almost Dickensian melodrama.

 

Just a few weeks before his own death in 1791 at the age of only thirty-five, Mozart was approached by a gentleman acting on behalf of an anonymous patron who wished to commission from him a Requiem Mass. This patron was Count Franz von Wazlsegg-Stuppach, whose wife had died. The Count saw this commemorative commission an opportunity by passing off the Requiem as his own. Thus, all business transactions where conducted in secrecy through a middleman. On several occasions the middleman arrived unannounced at the composer’s house. To the dying Mozart, these mysterious visitations had all the hallmarks of the supernatural.

 

Mozart died before he could complete the work. Payment for the work had already been received, and his wife, Constanze feared that an incomplete work would require the commission money to be returned. Constanze approached Franz Süssmayr.

 

Of the work’s twelve movements only the opening Kyrie had Mozart managed to complete in its entirety. For most of the others he had written the vocal parts and a figured bass line leaving just the orchestration. Mozart postponed writing the seventh movement, the Lacrymosa, until after writing movements eight and nine, and managed only the first eight bars before his death. He left a number of other fragments, such as the trombone solo at the opening of the Tuba Mirum. Süssmayr completed the Lacrymosa, and composed the whole of the last three movements, Mozart having passed away before he could even begin these sections.

 

Much more daunting was the task of writing the entire Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. By the end of 1792 Süssmayr had finished the task.

 

Count Walsegg’s score disappeared for nearly fifty years and Mozart enthusiasts believe comparing the Counts score with the original notes shows clearly which parts Mozart either wrote down or indicated in the form of sketches and footnotes, and which parts were completed and composed by his pupil. Further, Mozart is known to have played through and discussed the music with Süssmayr, it seems likely that ideas would have been passed on

 

But all this conjecture is of little consequence as we listen to the music. It is Mozart’s genius that shines through.

 

Notes adapted from John Bawden

 

Central Coast Chorale Limited | ABN 85 528 611 855 | www.centralcoastchorale.org 

Music Director | Christopher Bowen | www.christopherbowen.com.au

© 2018 Updated by Duncan Russell & David Darlington