Mozart's Coronation Mass
  • I am seeking input from those of you who have conducted or participated in the performance of Mozart's Coronation Mass. I am particularly interested in hearing from those who have performed that work with less than complete orchestral accompaniment. What was omitted? What do you feel was indispensable? How many strings did you use, if any? Did the instrumentation employed work well?

    I would be grateful for any and all input that addressed the above questions.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    We rehearsed with organ and once piano with violin for an orchestral concert, but I recall being tempted at one point to arrange the whole for piano trio for an extra performance.
  • A clarification: at our parish we do not use the piano at Mass. All Masses, English, Spanish, Latin, and the occasional other language (some Archdiocesan Masses are celebrated at our parish) are accompanied by the pipe organ, with occasional addition of orchestral instruments. So piano-based arrangements are not helpful for us.
    Thanked by 2Richard Mix eft94530
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    We have Mozart's letter asking for the Vespers to be sent from Salzburg to Vienna with no greater occasion than domestic music making. Perhaps he had an apartment organ, but I suspect not. In any case we have a clearer picture of his piano trio idiom than of his (non-player) organ writing and it seems to me far better suited to the obligato nature of the wind writing than a 4tte (How would that work: V1, V2, Vc as written and viola alternating between continuo filling in, oboe solos and chords at the tympani strokes? Rare fun for that player ;-) ).

    One might wonder why K 317 is chosen, when there are masses without oboes & horns, and even without trumpets & drums. In our case we were asked to collaborate with a community chorus & orchestra and have never repeated the piece on our own.
    For which of you having a mind to build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it…

    [Digression, not about the OP's situation.--admin]
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    Are you really calling us out on thread drift? ;-) You have my first post and my last, and I guess I might give up trumpets before drums and horns before oboes but I really can't advise you on what compromises offer the best footing on your particular Gaderene slope.

    I have happily done Mozart's Requiem with string quartet and organ, the latter playing continuo when not doubling as bassethorn/bassoon choir, and sans trombone, there being no sequence in that NO Service. This made for very little work, and the spareness went well with the unaccompanied gregorian singing of the Sanctus/Agnus and the post-communion "Jesus Son of Mary" (H82 357) to ADORO TE.
  • I have done it many times with less than called for orchestra, and it worked just fine.

    Strings, oboes, trumpets, timpani (organ can help aid especially in adding some bass, especially if you only want to hire as far down as a cello). After that, I would consider adding horns then bassoons.
  • I have done it with various sized ensembles. I would say the strings are absolutely necessary, as are the oboes (the oboe doubles/duets with the soprano soloist throughout). Everything else I think you could conceivably do without, especially with a little creativity in what the organist plays. In other words, don't have the organist playing an orchestral reduction or reduce them to continuo - have them fill in some of the more independent wind parts.
    Thanked by 1SteveOttomanyi
  • francis, agreed about the things that Holy Mother Church prefers--and asks of us in clearest possible terms. That is why, at all nine of our weekend Masses at our predominantly Hispanic and African American parish (which parishioners total 98% of our 12,500 registered families) congregants can and do sing: two Latin chant Mass settings (and will be learning a third one soon); all the dialogues in Latin (which is a basic level of singing for our congregants); and which is also why more complex chants and polyphony are sung by all our choirs, and the organ is used to accompany every single Mass. There are no guitars, drums, pianos, etc. used at Mass in our parish. They are perfectly fine for the great multitude of devotional prayer groups, and there they remain, though I am not aware of percussion being used by any of them.

    However, I do not seem to share the predilections of the rest of the members of this forum, who seem to tend towards the kind of repertoire that American traditionalists would seem to favor. I'm guessing it has more to do with my cultural background (I am American Indian [northeast U.S.] and Mexican [earlier: Cuban] on my mother's side [may she rest in peace]; my father is a more recent Hungarian immigrant. What we had in Austria and Hungary (we have family in both places) was very different than what was done here in America. We are not afraid to be joyful nor to make a joyful noise (nor, from time immemorial, to sing a vernacular hymn or two to organ and orchestral accompaniment). The same goes for our now-lost great and ancient (relatively speaking, for this continent) tradition of fine choral and instrumental music dating from the earliest colonial Mexico to as recently as the California Missions--which formed the first orchestras to be used in the modern territory of the United States, long predating such organizations in the English colonies.

    From my perspective, there is nothing wrong with having a Mozart or Schubert Mass setting sung liturgically with organ and orchestral accompaniment. From the perspective of our traditions--especially the Hispanic ones-- the American traditions almost seem to favor bland, insipid, and poorly-crafted music over the great treasury of the Church. (I have read that this was the cause of unending conflict among ethnic groups even before Vatican II.) No doubt, many of you indulged in an extended cringe reading the preceding post; and that's okay. That's what the norms of your flavor of traditional Catholic musical culture tells you to do. And this, the above, is what mine does.

    I think that we might all be able to rejoice in the bountiful riches of a great multitude of higher musical traditions that exist the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Though Chant is normative of this Rite, and polyphony is valued the most among musical forms, this treasure, "greater than that of any other art," extends beyond those narrow confines of those venerable repertoires.
  • To address directly the OP's question, one further question:

    How large is the chorus?
    Thanked by 1SteveOttomanyi
  • NihilNominis, we will be sixteen trained singers.
    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    Dear Users,

    This thread illustrates a common problem on the forum.

    A user requests specific technical advice about a specific work, which is lawful to perform at Mass. He gets some of that. Thanks to all who make that contribution!

    Other people take the topic as an opportunity to air their personal opinions against the work, without offering any of the requested technical advice. That does not show helpfulness, or friendliness, or competence, the three ingredients of professionalism.
  • Steve, you might want to contact the Knoxville Latin Mass Community. The choir director (whose name escapes me at the moment) told me how her choir sang this setting for one of their inaugural masses. They weren't a large group by any means but they amassed a large ad hoc choir (50 people) - the recordings she played for me were solid. Mary Frazier Garner is her name.
    Thanked by 1SteveOttomanyi