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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Music for Salzburg Cathedral
Litaniae Lauretanae in D major, K 195 (1774) [28:24]
Church Sonata in C major, K 329 (1779) [4:46]
Vesperae solennes de Dominica in C major, K 321 (1779) [29:59]
Inigo Jones (soprano); Michael Alchin (alto); Guy Cutting (tenor); Patrick Edmond (bass); Collegium Novum/Rodolfo Richter; Choir of New College Oxford/Edward Higginbottom
rec. 24-26 June 2013, St. Michael and All Angels Church, Summertown, Oxford, England.
Full Latin texts with English translations provided in booklet
NOVUM NCR 1388 [63:10]

The New College Choir Oxford directed by Edward Higginbottom is in remarkable form. There have been a number of splendid recent releases on their Novum label: François Couperin Exultent superi, Benjamin Britten The Sacred Choral Music and Charpentier Musique sacrée. Now comes the present disc featuring two of Mozart’s greatest sacred choral works sitting at the heart of the Oxford choir’s repertoire. The performances maintain the elevated level of quality we have come to expect. The orchestral accompaniment is provided by Collegium Novum, the period instrument ensemble, led by baroque violinist Rodolfo Richter. 

These three Mozart scores composed in 1774 /79 were written when Mozart and his father Leopold were in the employment of Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. This was a most uneasy relationship and it culminated in Colloredo expelling both father and son from his Salzburg court. Mozart was reinstated by Colloredo and given extra responsibilities, however, his father Leopold was left out in the cold and continued to be passed over as Kapellmeister. 

Despite the difficulties of working with Colloredo Mozart created some wonderful sacred music including the Litaniae Lauretanae in D major, K 195 in 1774. The five movement score comprises a series of exaltations and petitions to the Virgin Mary. This sequence is appropriate to a rite that was celebrated at the Salzburg cathedral during certain times of the year, especially during Holy Week. For me the highlight is the conspicuously memorable second movement Santa Maria. Here it isquite beautifully sung with purity and reverence by boy treble Inigo Jones. Jones is also heard in delightful duets with tenor Guy Cutting and with boy alto Michael Alchin.
 
Next is the Vesperae solennes de Dominica in C major, K 321 written in 1779 for use in Salzburg cathedral. In six movements, this Sunday Vesper setting consists of five Psalm settings and a concluding Magnificat. I especially admired the penultimate Laudate Dominum which has satisfyingly crisp singing from treble Inigo Jones. He is especially good in the coloratura passages; nor should we overlook the appealing obbligato organ part.
 
We also hear the Church Sonata in C major, K 329 that Mozart composed in 1779. He wrote seventeen such works intended for use at the point of the Mass between the Epistle and the Gospel. Marked Allegro this oneemploys the full orchestral forces that were thought to have been available at Salzburg cathedral. Edward Higginbottom explains that no trombones were used during these sessions as they were considered inappropriate for this studio recording.
 
Typically, director Higginbottom has prepared his Choir of New College Oxford impeccably and these performances attain real distinction. It is easy to respond to the fresh and vibrant sound of the boy choristers. When combined with the rock-steady security of the clerks’ voices the result is remarkable. The booklet notes are commendable including full Latin texts with English translations. We also get a superb essay ‘Mozart’s Sacred Music for Salzburg Cathedral’ by Adeline Mueller. As if that were not enough we also have Higginbottom’s ‘Conductor’s Perspective’. On the technical side I was delighted with the sound quality which is vivid and immediate.  

Michael Cookson