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Salisbury Musical Society – Bach Cantata & Mozart Mass

Saturday 29 March 2014 at 19:30



Mozart never completed his two greatest choral works, the Requiem and the Mass in C Minor. As is well known, his death prevented him from completing the former, though we can only guess as to why he left the latter unfinished. He had vowed to write a mass to be performed a year after his wedding to Constanze. It was duly performed in Salzburg with his wife as one of the soloists, but without the second half of the Credo and the Agnus Dei. Whatever the reasons for its incomplete state, it is still a substantial and magnificent fragment. In the film Amadeus, Mozart’s arch-rival Salieri hears a passage from the C Minor Mass and, overcome with envy, exclaims, “Ah! God mocks me!” It is hard to not to sympathise. Bach composed his Cantata ‘How Brightly Shines the Morning Star’ to celebrate the Annunciation on 25 March 1725, which, in that year, fell on Palm Sunday. Bach and his librettist drew together words and musical images appropriate to both festivals, and, by basing the work on a chorale more usually associated with Epiphany, emphasised the sense of anticipation and the hopefulness of a new beginning.

Salisbury Cathedral