Mozart C minor Mass, K.427


Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 10.49.30 PMPerformance on YouTube, with John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Stockholm Philharmonic; soloists Miah Persson, Ann Hallenberg, Hedge Rønning, Peter Mattei.

A first-rate performance of this great work, by a conductor who specializes in 18th-century choral works. It takes only an hour, but is rarely performed; I’ve heard a live performance only once, and found it very moving, plus — at times — tuneful. Below is an excerpt from my travel journal of 1975:

Salzburg is a music town, of course, and I guess its Festival is the oldest and most famous and probably the most professional. The number of stores selling records and scores is phenomenal, and the folk heros are all musical — you see huge posters of Böhm, von Karajan, Fischer-Dieskau, and Christa Ludwig all over town.

Our first musical event was the Mozart C minor Mass, K.427, which was performed in the St. Peter’s abbey church. I had never heard it performed before, although I know it pretty well from records, and it is certainly one of Mozart’s finest choral works. The setting was magnificent. The church is flamboyant Baroque of the 17th century with beautiful plaster ceilings and all sorts of ornate decoration. Incidentally the work was first performed in this very church on October 26, 1783. The church was packed to the gills; all the pews were filled, and in addition they sell standing room in both the aisles, which were pretty well packed. Some people brought folding chairs and stools. The audience appeared to be at least 90% Austrian, a number in black tie and long dresses even though the performance was at 11 AM.

The chorus and soloists on the YouTube version under review are excellent, with lagniappe in a bit of soprano cheesecake.

Thomas Lemann



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