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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete Church Sonatas

Sonata for orchestra and organ:
Sonata in C major for orchestra and organ, KV329 (c. 1779) [04.25]
Four Sonatas for strings and organ:
Sonata in A major for strings and organ, KV225 (1775/76) [03.57]
Sonata in B flat major for strings and organ, KV68 (1772) [04.04]
Sonata in D major for strings and organ, KV69 (1772) [03.52]
Sonata in F major for strings and organ, KV145 (1772) [03.04]
Three Sonatas for two solo violins, bass and organ:
Sonata in F major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV224 (1775/76) [04.19]
Sonata in E flat major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV67 (1772) [02.23]
Sonata in C major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV328 (1779) [04.29]
Sonata for orchestra and organ:
Sonata in C major for orchestra and organ, KV263 (1777) [02.45]
Four Sonatas for two solo violins, bass and organ:
Sonata in G major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV241 (1775/76) [03.47]
Sonata in B flat major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV212 (1775/76) [02.12]
Sonata in D major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV245 (1776) [03.40]
Sonata in G major for two solo violins, bass and organ, KV274 (1777) [03.30]
Three Sonatas for strings and organ:
Sonata in D major for strings and organ, KV144 (1772) [03.10]
Sonata in F major for strings and organ, KV244 (1776) [03.40]
Sonata in C major for strings and organ, KV336 (1780) [04.23]
Sonata for orchestra and organ:
Sonata in C major ‘pro festis pallii’ for orchestra and organ, KV278 (1777) [03.57]
Istvan Matyas, organ (KV263, KV278 & KV329)
Thomas Fheodoroff (violin)
Regine Schroder (violin)
Alexandra Dienz (bass)
Wiener Akademie/Martin Haselböck (director; organ)
rec: 12-15 June 2005, Hofburgkapelle, Vienna, Austria. DDD
CAPRICCIO DIGITAL SACD 71 064 [61.37]




Capriccio, the independent German label, has released a new recording of Mozart’s Church Sonatas or Epistle Sonatas. The scores feature the organ and were written to bridge the liturgical gap between the Epistle and the Gospel at Mass.

In Mozart’s 250th anniversary year it was a welcome change to hear some of his lesser known output as opposed to repeat recordings of the more popular scores. The Church Sonatas are performed here using period instruments. Martin Haselböck is also the organ soloist in the majority of the scores. Capriccio made the recording in 2005 in the Vienna Hofburgkapelle, the famous gothic chapel which is the residence of the Vienna Boys Choir.

These Sonatas, which Mozart refers to in a 1776 letter to his Italian champion Padre Martini, were played as part of the Mass between the reading (or chanting) of the Epistle and the Gospel in services at Salzburg Cathedral, although similar sorts of pieces occasionally occurred at other venues in Catholic Europe. I understand that none of the subsequent organists or composers at Salzburg Cathedral cultivated the genre. In 1783, a few years after Mozart had left for Vienna, Archbishop Hieronymus of Salzburg decreed that the Church Sonatas be replaced by vocal Gradualia and a new output of choral composition took the place of the Sonatas.

Mozart composed seventeen of them for use in Salzburg between the years 1772 and 1780. They are brief pieces that consist predominantly of a single fast movement. In the early Sonatas the organ appears as a continuo instrument with an increasing emancipation of the organ part in the later scores. These concisely designed pieces currently lead a life in the shadow of Mozart’s more familiar output, serving no function in contemporary liturgy and have no fixed place in the concert repertoire.

The first group of three, KV67 to KV69 were composed in 1772 and are scored, as are seven of these scores, for two violins, bass and organ. Their brevity is explained by the insistence of Hieronymus Count Colloredo, the then new Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, on the entire Mass not lasting for more than three-quarters of an hour. Mozart deplored this shortening and said as much in a letter on the subject written in 1776 to his former mentor Padre Martini, in Bologna.

The second Sonata of the group KV68, from 1772, introduces a brief element of contrapuntal imitation in the second subject; the whole is an abridged sonata form, also found in the third Sonata KV69. The KV144 and KV145, from 1774, similar in form and scoring, are explicable by the fact that Mozart was now employed as Konzertmeister of the Salzburg Cathedral orchestra.

The group of seven Sonatas: KV212, KV241, KV224, KV225, KV244, KV245 and KV274 are scored for two violins, bass and organ. They have been ascribed to 1775-1777 in Salzburg. Composed in the winter of 1776 KV263 includes a pair of trumpets which presence serves to add a ceremonial emphasis. KV278 was written in the spring of 1777 and is scored for two violins, cello, bass, pairs of oboes, trumpets and drums and organ.

On his Salzburg return from Paris, early in 1779, Mozart assumed more specific duties as the cathedral and court organist. KV329 is scored for strings without viola, and pairs of oboes, French horns, trumpets and drums. There is a more elaborate part for the organ, which Mozart would likely have played himself.

With KV328, from 1779, Mozart returns to the simpler orchestration of two violins, bass and organ. This is the same instrumentation as for the last Church Sonata of the series KV336, written in March 1780. It contains a part for solo organ as well as a ripieno organ basso continuo.

The period instrument orchestra the Wiener Akademie under their founder Martin Haselböck are highly impressive throughout. Haselböck expertly draws out a whole range of harmonic, textural and dynamic surprises in these varied and compelling scores. The performances are authoritative and frequently full-blooded with playing that displays rich and sensuous timbres from the authentic instruments. The two violin soloists: Thomas Fheodoroff and Regine Schroder complement each other impressively and their playing is distinguished throughout as is that of bass player Alexandra Dienz. The recording utilises the services of two organists; the conductor Martin Haselböck and Istvan Matyas (on the three Church Sonatas for orchestra and organ) and their playing is exemplary in every way.

The booklet notes are interesting and reasonably informative in what is a well presented release. The engineers of this super audio CD, which I played on my standard CD players, have provided crystal clear sound. To suit my personal taste I would have preferred a more forward-placed organ but friends who listened to this recording were highly satisfied with the balance.

This is a disc of high quality music from Mozart which I have no hesitation in recommending to anyone especially to those who enjoy lesser known music from the Classical era.

Michael Cookson

 


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