Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Miscellaneous Notes

Mozart Missa brevis in G major, KV 140

Mozart’s Masses are to be considered according to the “enlightened” spirit of the time. The restrictive decrees on church music issued by Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg--of which Mozart complained of in his famous letter to Padre Martini--demanded of liturgical music clarity and simplicity above all else. The Missa brevis or short Mass had come to the fore; this was through-composed, renouncing the cantata-like succession of movements.  The young Mozart had to work within this pre-established framework. His Salzburg Masses, apart from those he wrote as a child, were composed as part of his job as the Archbishop’s music director and court organist. It is a sign of Mozart’s genius that he was able to conform to the set requirements, yet in the end eclipse his predecessors through his creativity, his ability to give the movement thematic unity and his unerring sense of musical logic and proportions.

The Mozart Missa Brevis in G major, KV 140 is a typical Missa brevis: it is scored for the standard church trio of two violins, cello/bass, and organ, and omits the intonations for the Gloria and the Credo. Mozart made four other Missa brevis settings using the church trio and omitting intonations, all of them dating from 1774 or earlier. More than likely composed in 1773, the autograph of this Mass has been lost, so that the authenticity of the work, which is stylistically unusual, has been questioned. However, research for the New Mozart Edition, based on a copy in the archives of Salzburg Cathedral, makes the authorship of Mozart seem probable.

The song-like character of the work has earned it the name “Pastoralmesse” – characterized by the swaying triple meter in the Kyrie and Gloria, and in the Agnus Dei, where it gives way to the merriment of the closing Dona nobis pacem. The bridging sections of the three-part Credo and the closing sections of the Sanctus and Benedictus are strongly marked. The interchange of soloists and choir in the Gloria is motivically unified, while unity is achieved in the bridge sections of the Credo by means of a recurrent violin figure.

~ Alfred Beaujean with edits and additions by Ryan Turner