Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Miscellaneous Notes

Mozart Litaniae Lauretanae de Beate Maria Virgine, K. 109

Composed in 1771 at the age of 15, the Litaniae Lauretanae is the first and most straightforward of the four litanies Mozart composed while in Salzburg.  It shows Mozart creating works of genius far beyond that of any of his peers -- works which today still astonish for their precociousness, ingenuity, and almost impertinent mastery.

While Mozart was in residence at the Salzburg Cathedral, the Archbishop Colloredo had required that Mozart 1) not repeat text, 2) keep his church music free from unnecessary effects and; 3) always be subservient to the liturgy. Thus, Mozart expresses the text in a rather direct and unfussy manner. Drawn from a verse prayed by a Marian cult in Loreto, Italy and blessed by Pope Sixtus V in 1587, it consists of a series of invocations and supplications. A small-scale work, the instrumentation is confined to two violins, bass and organ, the “church trio”, with the trombones doubling the alto, tenor and bass of the choir.  

Perhaps the most unusual element of this composition is the apparent deepening and growth of the composer's creative powers as the work progresses. It begins forthrightly with upbeat tempi and melodies. In the soprano/alto dialogue of the second movement, a foretaste of the “Recordare” of Mozart's Requiem is evident. But shortly after the beginning of the Agnus Dei, the mood palpably darkens and we enter a noticeably more somber sphere at the text "miserere nobis." Mozart’s personal expression in this work is most apparent in the plaintive touches of minor harmonic color and deceptive cadences, which serve to underline points in the text and to delay the final close.

~John Ehrlich with additions & edits by Ryan Turner