Exultate’s full-orchestral recording of The Grand Mass in C Minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a splendid recording available on CD. Kristin Morant (soprano I), Sarah Zimmerman (soprano II), Roy Heilman (tenor), and Jonathan Ten Brink (bass).
Mozart began work on the Mass in C Minor in the summer of 1782. To fulfill a promise to Constanze he would perform a Mass in her honor when he took her to Salzburg to meet his father, who had not given the marriage his blessing. The Mass was rehearsed on August 23rd, and performed in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter on August 26, 1783 with Constanze herself singing one of the solo soprano parts. The next performance did not occur until April 3rd of 1901.
The score was published from incomplete materials in 1840. The Kyrie, Gloria, most of theSanctus, including the Osanna and the Benedictus, were finished, but regarding the Credo we find only Credo in unum Deum and Et incarnatus est. In this performance the Credo ends after the text, “…Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man.” The remaining portion of the second article as well as the entire third article of the creed are missing.
On this recording we have chosen to present the incomplete mass. The Agnus Dei is a reworking of the Kyrie and was not in the original score. We include it here for two reasons. First, it rounds out the Mass by using a technique often used by composers, that of having the same or similar music at the beginning and the end of a composition and secondly, it makes the Mass somewhat more complete. By including an Agnus Dei we at least have portions of all five parts of the Mass. There is evidence that Mozart intended to finish the work but his life ended less than 10 years later and the composition remained unfinished alongside the also unfinished Requiem Mass.
The Mass in C Minor is the most ambitious and elaborate of Mozart¹s church works, planned on a scale comparable to that of Bach’s Mass in B minor. At the very time Mozart was writing it, he was also studying the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. It is evident in the counterpoint and basic structure of this mass that Mozart was impressed with the works of Bach and was influenced by his hearing of Bach’s compositional style. Because of that the Grand Mass is the single most elaborate, complex and difficult of all the Mozart vocal works. In this one composition we see a different Mozart, a supreme composer who is most mature and most accomplished in his craft of placing notes on paper. What a wonderful treasure it is!
Notes by conductor, Thomas D. Rossin
Kristin Morant, soprano I – At New York City’s Carnegie Hall in April 2009, Kristin Morant “brought the audience to its feet” (Standard-Examiner Utah) with her crystalline voice and sparkling interpretation of the “Bell Song” from Lakme. Morant has had similar success across the country.
Morant’s effervescent opera performances have included many of the most spectacular coloratura roles in the repertory. Opera engagements have included Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute with Twin Cities Lyric Theatre, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Elisa in Il re pastore, Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann and Cecile in the midwestern premiere of Susa’sThe Dangerous Liaisons – all with the University of Minnesota Opera Theatre. On the Minnesota Opera’s Midwestern Tour, she appeared as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro and the Narrator Bat in the premiere of Carla Alcorn’s The Cat Who Walks by Himself. With the Minnesota Opera, she has also appeared in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Street Scene and Die Zauberflote. Other roles premiered include the Oracle in Shirley Mier’s The Oracle at Delphi and Marcantonio in the Minnesota Opera’s premiere of Dominick Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming.
Kristin has been the recipient of the Schuessler Vocal Fellowship, the Schubert Club Special Opportunities Grant and the Minnesota State Arts Board Career Opportunities Grant. She earned her Master of Music degree from the University of Minnesota under the tutelage of Barbara Kierig. She can be heard with the Exultate Choir and Orchestra in another CD, Emmanuel. Kristin also instructs voice and piano and has been a voice instructor for the University of Minnesota. She maintains a studio of voice and piano students at her home in St. Paul and can be found at Kristin Morant.
Sarah Zimmerman, soprano II, received the Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy degree from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and a Bachelor of Vocal Music Education from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York.
As the winner of the 2003 RWC Concerto Aria competition, she performed Mi tradi from Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the RWC Orchestra. In March, 2006, she was invited to perform Robert, toi que j’aime from Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable on the Roberts’ Cultural Life Center’s 10th Anniversary Gala concert. During her graduate studies at Westminster, Sarah performed often with the WCC Symphonic Choir and the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center with such world-renowned conductors as Lorin Maazel, Pierre Boulez and Joseph Flummerfelt.
In 2005, she was a soloist at the Spoleto Festival USA, in the national premiere of Braunfels’Die Vogel in the role of the Erste Schwalbe, and was invited to participate in the International Vocal Arts Institute in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she studied operatic repertoire with Metropolitan Opera singers, Sherrill Milnes and Diana Soviero, and Met conductor Paul Nadler. Sarah participated in the New York Opera Studio-Summer 2007 at Vassar College where she worked with Nico Castel. She recently appeared in productions of the Minnesota Opera.
Roy Heilman, tenor – A frequent tenor soloist, Roy Heilman has recently been heard in major works such as Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s The Seasons, and as Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion. He also makes frequent ensemble appearances in the Twin Cities area, most notably with Silver Swan, Glorious Revolution Baroque, Exultate and Consortium Carissimi. Mr. Heilman is tenor soloist and section leader at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. He holds degrees in vocal performance from Gustavus Adolphus College and the New England Conservatory of Music. Roy’s upcoming engagements include spending his summer at the Oregon Bach Festival and singing as Evangelist in Bach’sChristmas Oratorio with the Bach Society of Minnesota. He rehearses and lives in Shoreview, Minnesota with his wife and two children and can always be found at Roy Heilman.
Jonathan Ten Brink, bass – Jonathan Ten Brink is an exciting soloist active in opera, oratorio, and chamber music. His “big voice” that “rumbles like foghorns” (Pioneer Press) is regarded as “rich” (Madison Magazine), “heartwarming” (Examiner), and “possessing considerable agility” (Grand Rapids Press).
Mr. Ten Brink last performed with Exultate in Haydn’s Paukenmesse. His recent opera credits include singing Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia, and Alfesibeo in the North American Premier of Gli more dÕApollo e di Daphne under the musical direction of Paul O’Dette. On the concert stage he has performed with The Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival, Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Exultate in works including Handel’sEsther, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion as ariaist and Jesus, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Carmina Burana. He is also a frequent collaborator in chamber works with The Rose Ensemble, Glorious Revolution Baroque, and Oratory.
In addition to performing, Mr. Ten Brink is in demand as a voice teacher and clinician. He maintains full studios at Crown College and North Central University in addition to teaching Diction, Vocal Pedagogy, and Early Music History. He has given master classes across the continental United States from Georgia to Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon. He holds a BA in voice from Calvin College, MM from Bowling Green State University, and is completing his DMA at the University of Minnesota.