Antonio Salieri (1750 – 1825)
Mass in D major
Antonio Salieri, the last Italian to hold the post of Court Conductor, came to the Viennese Court in 1766 with the help of the Court Composer Florian Gassmann, where he himself became Court Composer and at the same time Director of the Italian Opera in 1774. In 1788 he was finally appointed Court Conductor, a post he retained until his retirement in 1824, making him the longest serving Court Conductor of the Hofmusikkapelle.
During his creative period, he wrote more than 40 operas, numerous secular and religious vocal works, serenades, instrumental concertos and ballet suites. However, the number of his symphonic works remained low, as did the number of his masses, of which he wrote only four. His masses were intended exclusively for the Hofmusikkapelle and, as documented by Friedrich Rochlitz, were written "for God and Emperor" during his time as Court Conductor.
The Mass in D major is dated 1788 by Salieri biographer Ignaz Franz von Mosel and was therefore intended for the celebrations on the occasion of Emperor Joseph II's return from the Ottoman Wars.
Salieri's church music is generally characterised by humility and devotion and avoids operatic elements, which are more common in the church music of his contemporaries. The Mass in D major also reflects this and is especially concerned with text comprehensibility in the Credo: After a devotional Kyrie with restrained dynamics and instrumentation, the full orchestral apparatus only unfolds in the Gloria. The "et in carnatus" in the Credo stands out as a short homophonic passage a capella and is exemplary for the way in which the text of the Mass is handled with an emphasis on comprehensibility. In the Sanctus, the sound reaches its climax with fanfare-like trumpet interjections and dotted rhythms. In the Agnus Dei, Salieri succeeds in embodying the depth of the text with harmonic dignity. The conclusion with dona nobis pacem is striking for its main theme, reminiscent of Haydn's imperial anthem.
Vienna, July 2022
Translation: Godwin Gundacker
- Salieri, Antonio: Mass in D Major, ed. by Jane Schatkin Hettrick. A-R Editions, Madison, Wisconsin, 1993, pp. vii-xxiii.
- Rice, John A. & Hettrick, Jane S.: Art. "Salieri, Antonio", in: MGG Online, ed. by Laurenz Lütteken, Kassel et al., 2016.
Conductor: Martin Schebesta
Organist: Wolfgang Kogert
Choir: Vienna Boys Choir, Vienna State Opera men's choir, "Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle"
Orchestra: Members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Celebrant: Peter Schipka
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