Mozart, Waisenhaus-Messe K139
La maîtrise de Caen, Les musiciens du paradis
This mass, written by a boy of the age of our choristers, shows an astonishing maturity. It was the first attempt by the composer to write in the religious domain, and it is a masterpiece. Mozart re-uses the form of the Italian mass, where the movements are divided into an alternation of choirs, quartets, duos and solos. The orchestration is sumptuous, with its four trumpets and timpani, its three trombones, oboes and strings.
Even if this instrumentation is quite common in solemn works, the young composer manages to use the instruments in an unusual fashion. In this way, the trombones appear, exposed, in the monumental introduction of the Kyrie, in order to come back at the beginning of the Agnus Dei. The four stopped trumpets produce a startling effect in the Crucifixus.
With these contrasting movements, the Mass possesses both astounding theatricality and spirituality. The young Mozart possessed an innate feeling for drama, which would be ever-present in his Requiem.