I remember the first time I heard a bit of this work: during seventh grade, I borrowed from my public library a Seraphim LP of Anna Moffo singing Mozart arias. I was most struck by the heavenly “Et incarnatus est.”

Eventually I bought a record of Raymond Leppard’s version which featured Ileana Cotrubas in that aria (along with the young Kiri Te Kanawa as second soprano).

Years later I’d finally get to hear the Mass live, first with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Israeli soprano Sylvia Greenberg, then two years later with Sylvia McNair (a great favorite at the time) at the New York Philharmonic during 1991, the bicentenary of Mozart’s death.

I haven’t heard it live since; is it just not done much these days or more likely I’ve just missed it because I didn’t care for the soprano performing!

The 2010 Mostly Mozart Festival, however, provided the opportunity to finally hear Davide Penitente, a rare Mozart work that incorporates many movements from the Mass, although “Et incarnatus est” is omitted. Mozart instead composed “Fra l’oscure ombre funeste,” a new superb soprano aria for Davide. Carolyn Sampson performed it at Mostly Mozart, but Sandrine Piau with Les Arts Florissants can be heard on a Trove Thursday post from 2017—in which she is seconded by Véronique Gens!

While scanning through my recordings conducted by Bernard Haitink for another Trove Thursday, I unearthed the Augér performance and added it to the Tanglewood version (apologies for its somewhat compromised sound quality). It features Battle rather early in her career. From my Cincinnati cache, Oropesa’s May Festival Mass also includes John Cheek once again in the tiny one-movement bass part, 38 years after his similar appearance at Tanglewood!

I’m less a fan of Mozart’s Requiem and his other masses; I much prefer Haydn’s and Trove Thursday will feature several of those sometime in 2022!

Mozart: “Great” Mass in C Minor, K. 427

Tanglewood Festival
15 July 1978

Kathleen Battle
Maria Ewing
Philip Creech
John Cheek

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: James Levine

Mozart: “Great” Mass in C Minor, K. 427

20 September 1979


Arleen Augér
Julia Hamari
Alexander Oliver
Henk Smit

Groot Omroepkoor
Conductor: Bernard Haitink

Mozart: “Great” Mass in C Minor, K. 427

Cincinnati May Festival
20 May 2016

Lisette Oropesa
Elizabeth DeShong
Ben Bliss
John Cheek

Cincinnati May Festival Chorus
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: James Conlon

Each broadcast of the “Great” Mass can be downloaded by clicking on the icon of a square with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 files will appear in your download directory.

Before today’s Mozart trio, Trove Thursday has in previous years offered traditional seasonal fare: Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel (with Sena Jurinac and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf being kids in Italian!);  Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christand Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting Handel’s Messiah with Karina Gauvin, Karen Cargill, Christophe Dumaux, Andrew Staples and Matthew Rose.

In addition, more than 400 other podcast tracks are always available from Apple Podcasts for free, or via any RSS reader. The archive which lists all Trove Thursday offerings in alphabetical order by composer was up-to-dated recently.