Laudate Dominum

Every now and then, I just have to listen to Mozart’s Vesperae solennes de confessore. “Solemn Vespers of the Confessor” – sounds like a laff riot, no? But Austrian Catholicism isn’t what I grew up with. It’s a blast. If I thought I’d hear music like this every Sunday, you wouldn’t be able to keep me away.

Not that this is music for every Sunday. But feasts of the Confessors are not all that rare, and these prayers – psalms, mostly, but with the evangelical “Magnificat” – could be performed anywhere capable of mustering the forces. Manuscripts have been found in churches and monasteries within one hundred miles of Salzburg.

My favorite has always been Confitebor tibi Domine, but everybody agrees that the Laudate Dominum – a soprano aria with choral accompaniment – is absolutely ravishing. How interesting it is that Mozart backs up the solo with violins scaling the same huge intervals that make the Lacrimosa of the Requiem so moving. It’s very hard to listen to this music without feeling that the ecclesiastical and the erotic were reconciled in a certain corner of Germany.

¶ Laudate Dominum.