A Bank Holiday weekend looms, so I don’t expect a huge following for this post; but for those of you who are able to find just five minutes, I am certain you will not be disappointed. Here is a perfect example of a piece which will be known to many, and which you may think will never do anything new for you again. I thought so myself, until I stumbled on this recording: it moved me so much that I played it four times in a row. It has a particular poignancy for me and my family, as it was the music which was sung as my beloved father’s coffin was carried into the church nearly a year ago.
Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum’ is one of six movements of his Solemn Vespers, composed in 1780 for the cathedral in Salzburg, and is often sung as a stand-alone piece. Whether you are already familiar with it or not, I found having the Latin text and English translation an added help in my appreciation of it, so I have attached it below:
Laudate Dominum omnes gentes
Laudate eum, omnes populi
Quoniam confirmata est
Super nos misericordia eius,
Et veritas Domini manet in aeternum.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.
Et in saecula saeculorum.
Praise the Lord, all nations;
Praise Him, all people.
For He has bestowed
His mercy upon us,
And the truth of the Lord endures forever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever,
and for generations of generations.
So what’s so special about this, you may ask? It’s a simple answer. Lucia Popp was a Slovak soprano, who died far too young from brain cancer in 1993 at the age of 54. She had enjoyed a glittering operatic career in many famous roles, including some of the heavier ones of Wagner and Richard Strauss, with leading conductors at the world’s top opera houses. But for me it is in the music of Mozart where she truly shines. There is a purity in her voice which seems to fit so perfectly with his music, and it’s easy to think that Mozart himself would have been beside himself with excitement if she’d been around a couple of hundred years ago.
This is different, it really is. It is clean, beautifully controlled (especially the Amen), without excessive vibrato (wobbling, to you and me). It is a stunning account of one of the most famous of all tunes, and proves that however hardened you are, however well you think you know something, you can always be blown away by someone who is on a different level.