Program Notes: Mozart's Requiem (March 4-6, 2022)

Updated: Mar 2

Program

March 4-6


Patrick Summers, conductor Roger Kaza, horn

Erica Petrocelli, soprano

Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Soloman Howard, bass

St. Louis Symphony Chorus

Amy Kaiser, director


Scheduled guest artist Dmitry Sinkovsky was unable to travel to St. Louis to appear with the SLSO this weekend. We welcome Patrick Summers, conductor, and Roger Kaza, SLSO Principal Horn, in addition to the guest artists for Mozart’s Requiem, to the program.



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


La clemenza di Tito, K. 621 (1791)

Overture

"Non più di fiori"

Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano


Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 417 (1783)

Roger Kaza, horn


Requiem in D minor, K. 626 (1791)

Introtius: Requiem—

Kyrie

Sequenz

Dies irae

Tuba mirum

Rex tremendae

Recordare

Confutatis—

Lacrimosa

Offertorium

Domine Jesu

Hostias

Sanctus

Benedictus

Angus Dei—

Communio: Lux aeterna


Erica Petrocelli, soprano

Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano

Nicholas Phan, tenor

Soloman Howard, bass

St. Louis Symphony Chorus

Amy Kaiser, director

 

Program Notes

W. A. Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born January 27, 1756, Salzburg, Austria

Died December 5, 1791, Vienna, Austria


La clemenza di Tito - Overture and "Non più di fiori"


La clemenza di Tito was Mozart’s last opera, written at roughly the same time as his Requiem and mere months before his death. The opera was a commission for the coronation of the new Holy Roman Emperor in Bohemia, and its plot concerns the ascension of ancient Roman emperor Tito and jilted daughter of the former emperor, Vitellia. Love triangles and murder schemes abound, but in the end, it is a story of acceptance and forgiveness. After failed crimes, Vitellia accepts her fate in her aria, “Non più di fiori,” and Tito shows his clemency by forgiving her.


First performance: September 6, 1791, by the orchestra of the Estates Theatre in Prague, the composer conducting First SLSO performance: February 16, 1934, Sciopione Guidi conducting Most recent SLSO performance: June 21, 2016, Robert Ainsley conducting Instrumentation: Overture: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings; “Non più di Fiori”: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, basset horn, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, strings Approximate duration: Overture: 5 minutes; “Non più di Fiori”: 7 minutes

 

Horn Concerto No. 2


In the last eight years of his life, Mozart wrote several works for horn, all dedicated to his close friend Joseph Leutgeb. We get a glimpse into their silly friendship by the composer’s inscription on this concerto, “Mozart takes pity on Leutgeb, ass, ox, and simpleton, at Vienna, March 27, 1783.” A true friend, Leutgeb would go on to help organize the composer’s manuscripts after his death.


Around this time, significant changes were taking place in the performance practice of the horn, and the three movements of this concerto offer a broad view of its abilities and sounds. The first movement is a well-mannered conversation, the second full of beautiful long lines, and the third a dance between solo horn and sparkling strings.


First performance: 1783, in Vienna, by Joseph Leutgeb First SLSO performance: June 8, 1973, Amerigo Marino conducting, with Roland Pandolfi as soloist Most recent SLSO performance: February 25, 2006, Roberto Minczuk conducting, with Jennifer Montone as soloist Instrumentation: solo horn, 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings Approximate duration: 16 minutes

 

Requiem


Everything heard so far in this concert has prepared our ears for Mozart’s final, unfinished masterpiece, his Requiem. The stormy Symphony in G minor introduced J.C. Bach, who mentored the boy Mozart in London. (It’s likely that Bach’s symphony influenced Mozart’s equally turbulent “Little G minor” symphony, K. 183, which was used to great effect in the opening titles of Amadeus.) The Handel arias showcase expressive and dramatic writing for the voice. And Vivaldi’s concerto foreshadowed the key of D minor with its connotations of tenderness and melancholy. In Mozart’s hands, at the other end of the century, the expressive possibilities of D minor expand from brooding sorrow and gloominess to sheer terror—think of his Piano Concerto No. 20 (K. 466) and the opera Don Giovanni. It’s no accident that these works, together with the Requiem, were among the most revered in the decades following Mozart’s death. Their impassioned drama spoke powerfully to the 19th-century imagination, and they speak to the modern imagination too.

Chances are you’ve encountered the legend surrounding Mozart’s Requiem. Although it makes for great theater, there’s no truth in the story of composer Antonio Salieri poisoning Mozart or attempting to frighten him by appearing as a masked figure in gray. But there was a mystery man: the agent of Count Walsegg, who anonymously commissioned the Requiem—a setting of the Latin Mass for the Dead—with a view to passing it off as his own. Despite the circumstances, Mozart was reportedly eager to try his hand at this “higher form of church music” and he almost certainly needed the money. But severe illness, probably rheumatic fever, led Mozart to believe he was writing his own requiem, and his death in December 1791 cut short his work, eight measures into the poignant Lacrimosa. In order to collect the fee, Mozart’s widow, Constanze, arranged for the Requiem to be completed by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr, and while others have since made their own completions, it’s to Süssmayr that we owe the survival of this work in the repertoire.

Mozart’s Requiem is the work of a composer whose heart was in the opera house. Yes, it works perfectly well in a liturgical context, but the music’s dramatic and expressive range takes it beyond the scope of ritual function. The result is both intensely personal and, in sections such as the Dies iræ, furious and terrifying. These extremes are mirrored in the orchestral colors. Curiously, Mozart doesn’t include flutes, oboes, clarinets or horns, but there are parts for the gentle sound of the basset horn (a low-voiced member of the clarinet family, heard to remarkable effect at the very beginning, for example, and in the Recordare). Meanwhile, three trombones—instruments associated with church and theater at the time but unknown in concert music—contribute to fiercer moments such as the Confutatis. For the concluding section, Cum sanctis, Süssmayer reprised the music Mozart has written for the Kyrie—voices and instruments weaving together for a thrilling fugue in the style of Handel.


First performance: Parts of the Requiem were performed in a memorial service for Mozart in Vienna on December 10, 1791; the full Requiem in Süssmayr's completion was heard in a benefit concert for Mozart's widow, Constanze, on January 2, 1793; Court Walsegg organized its first liturgical performance (inner his own name) outside Vienna on December 14, 1793 First SLSO performance: December 13, 1958, Edouard van Remoortel conducting Most recent SLSO performance: November 20, 2016, David Robertson conducting

Instrumentation: solo soprano, alto, tenor, and bass; 2 basset horns, 2 bassoons,, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, portative organ, strings, chorus

Approximate duration: 48 minutes

 

Requiem program note by Yvonne Frindle. La clemenza di Tito and Horn Concerto notes by Caitlin Custer.