Seven Last Words of Christ - Franck
Coronation Mass - Mozart

Fall 2002 Concert Notes

Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joe Jacovino, Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra

Sunday March 9, 2003 - 3:00pm
St. Rose of Lima Church, Newtown, Connecticut

- Soloists - Review - CD -

Seven Last Words of Christ – Cesar Franck (1822-1890)
Plus Panis Angelicus, Psalm 150

Cesar Franck
Cesar Franck
1822-1890

Cesar Franck goes down in the annals of music history as one of the master composers in instrumental music. At the same time, the extensive amount of church music he composed, the product of his committed work as a church musician, has fallen into oblivion. Two notable exceptions are the beautiful Panis Angelicus and the rousing Psalm 150. Church music was the dominant element in the early and most of all the middle period of his life. One of the most striking compositions of his middle period is The Seven Last Words of Christ (on the Cross) (1859) and surprisingly, it was not performed during his lifetime. In fact, even the writers of music history were unaware of its existence until 1955. It was performed for the first time in 1977 in Stuttgart, almost 120 years after it was written.

In the course of music history, this text has inspired a number of composers to put it to music. Franck combines the words of Christ with additional biblical texts and liturgical texts (not deriving from the Bible) to form larger, self-contained units.

The work is both dramatic and meditative, and is very powerful. The eight movements are combined to form a cyclical structure and Franck makes extensive use of symbolism – whereby the elements of the grand-opera shine through.

Coronation Mass – W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart
1756-1791

Of the sacred works that the mighty Mozart composed, none is as well known or as popular as the Coronation Mass (K 317). This beautiful work of art is the most joyful of all his settings of the Mass, of which he wrote 17 in total. It is full of vitality and blazingly triumphant, containing singable melodies and spirited rhythms. It is considered to be an explosion of choral and orchestral color.

One critic writes: "The Coronation Mass is an incredible work of art that is so beautiful that it often brings tears to my eyes. Mozart has captured the Divine in this piece." (M. Menges; Ithaca College.)

The nickname grew out of the misguided belief that Mozart had written the mass for Salzburg's annual celebration to commemorate the crowning of the Shrine of the Virgin. The more likely explanation is that it was one of the works that was performed during the coronation festivities in Prague, in August 1791 for the Austrian Emperor, Leopold II. The music itself is celebratory in nature, and would certainly have fitted either occasion perfectly.