The Chatham Chorale will share some of the most magnificent music ever composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a concert on April 29, at 3:00 pm, in the beautiful auditorium at Monomoy Performing Arts Center, Monomoy Regional High School in Harwich. On the program for this single performance are the Great Mass in C Minor (K. 427), performed by the Chorale with guest vocal soloists and orchestra, and the Piano Concerto no. 21 in C Major (K. 467), featuring Donald Enos, longtime Chorale accompanist and keyboardist with the Cape Symphony.
“Our audience that Sunday will have the joy of hearing some of Mozart’s peak artistry,” says Chorale Music Director Joseph Marchio. “All the gifts of this protean composer are on display in these works.”
For aficionados of choral music, the Mass in C Minor stands even above the more familiar Requiem. Last heard on the Cape five years ago, this last of Mozart’s Mass settings is a “cantata mass,” its mighty and complex choruses alternating with sumptuously lyrical solo passages.
Mozart composed the Mass in 1783 as a gesture of love to his wife, Constanze, who sang the soprano part at the work’s premiere in Salzburg. (About one of the soprano solos, “Et incarnatus est,” Pope Francis I said, “It is matchless; it lifts you to God!”) Mozart actually composed the work after moving to Vienna, in part because church officials in his home town of Salzburg frowned on his more lavish and dramatic sacred music—none more so than this work.
At the Chorale’s concert, the solos premiered by Constanze will be sung by the Cape’s favorite soprano, Joan Kirchner of Brewster. The mezzo soprano is Boston-based Heather Gallagher; the two sopranos share a celestial duet (some might hear it as a duel!) in the “Domine Deus” section. Rounding out the corps of soloists are tenor Connor Vigeant, who sings with Boston Baroque, and baritone Colin Levin, last heard with the Chorale in Mozart’s Requiem in 2014.
The exalted place of this Mass in Mozart’s universe is all the more remarkable because he never actually completed it. It’s not known exactly why: since it wasn’t a commissioned piece, his precarious finances may have forced Mozart to set it aside in favor of performing or more lucrative composing. Details of some movements have been filled in by others. Nevertheless, writes music scholar Steven Zohn, the Mass is “Mozart at his most dazzling. You get Mozart the opera composer, Mozart the composer of sacred vocal music, and Mozart the explorer of Baroque counterpoint ... all wrapped into one.”
As music director Marchio points out, “The Great Mass uses the largest orchestra in any Mozart sacred work. I thought this created the perfect opportunity to pair it with one of his most famous instrumental works. The Piano Concerto no. 21 will be a showcase for our incredibly talented colleague, pianist Donald Enos.”
Mozart wrote an astonishing 27 piano concertos, composing no. 21 in 1785, at the height of his productivity and popularity. It was nicknamed Elvira Madigan after the memorable theme from its second movement was featured in the soundtrack of that 1967 Swedish film—winning thousands of new Mozart fans. (The same haunting Andante melody inspired Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue.”) Despite these popular associations, the work is among Mozart’s most virtuosic for both soloist and orchestra. Himself among the great virtuosos of any generation, he played all his own concertos, usually improvising here and there.
Donald Enos says, “The Mozart no. 21, which I first came across in college, fulfills that sense of hope and optimism usually found in works composed in C major.” A native Cape Codder, Enos holds a masters from the New England Conservatory and is resident pianist for both the Chorale and the Cape Symphony. Among his solo appearances, he has played two other Mozart concerti (K. 449 and K. 459). Enos is also director of music at the South Dennis Congregational Church and the founder-director of the Meeting House Chamber Music Festival, embarking on its 41st year.
Chatham Chorale is one of Cape Cod’s longest-established choral ensembles, for 47 years presenting an annual concert series with programs ranging from choral masterworks to Broadway, pops stylings, and premieres of new works by regional composers. The Chorale also regularly collaborates with the Cape Symphony—for example, in the annual Holiday Pops concerts—and sings in service to the community.
Tickets ($25 open/$30 reserved) can be purchased at www.chathamchorale.org/tickets, by phone (774-212-9333) or at the door the day of the concert. Students and those under 18 admitted free with a ticket; call the number above. For more information, visit www.chathamchorale.org.