Program Notes: Mozart's Vesperae solennes de Confessore

The K. 339 "Vespers" of Mozart is the second of a pair of such pieces written by Mozart in 1780 for the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg, the first being his Vesperae de Dominica, K. 321. Each is a series of settings of Psalms for mixed choir, solo quartet, orchestra, and organ.

The present work sets Psalms 110 ("Dixit Dominus"), 111 ("Confitebor tibi Domine"), 112 ("Beatus vir"), 113 ("Laudate pueri Dominum"), and 117 ("Laudate Dominum"), and the New Testament canticle "Magnificat." Each movement is presented in a relatively concise form, often with different lines superimposed in contrapuntal texture to maintain the brevity required in the mass form in Salzburg at this time. Mozart composes in a variety of styles, including the stile antico, found especially in Psalm 113, as well as the stile moderno, or expressive style, found most notably in his setting of Psalm 117, with the tender soprano answered by the full chorus.

While each of these Psalms could be-and often has been-performed independently as a separate anthem, we will present the Vespers in its entirety. This work is performed in honor of the great Salzburg master's 250th "birthday."

Stephen B. Wilson

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