Pergolesi’s Mass in D major, Giulio Prandi says, is “theatre for the soul. […] The work addresses the listeners with immediacy because the language penetrates people’s souls directly and deeply.” Since founding his ensemble Coro e Orchestra Ghislieri in 2003, the conductor has made it his mission to rediscover and perform unknown musical gems of Italian church music. He released his recording of Pergolesi’s Mass in D major in March 2018; the sheet music to it had been dispersed for centuries across various libraries. Dramatic, thrilling and bursting with energy: that describes the festive work that the composer presumably composed on behalf of the city of Naples in the early 1730s, a time in which the gestural and emotionally charged opera style was also being introduced into church music. Pergolesi, who decisively influenced the genre of opera buffa with his intermezzo La serva padrona, was then considered one of the most exciting composers of his time. His early death abruptly ended his promising artistic development.
Operatic, arioso stylistic elements can also be found in the other two sacred works on this concert. Joseph Haydn’s Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo, concise in scope and scored modestly, was given the name “Little Organ Mass” due to the extended organ and soprano solo in the Benedictus. In his Vesperae solennes de Confessore, composed for Salzburg’s Archbishop, Mozart creates an ingenious mixture of “modern” theatrical and strictly contrapuntal style. Perhaps the best-known piece from it is the “Laudate Dominum”, which Mozart conceived as an intimate, lyrical movement for soprano and choir. Marlis Petersen will sing the soprano soli in all three works. The internationally sought-after opera singer has already collaborated with many well-known conductors from the historically informed performance practice movement, including René Jacobs and Ton Koopman.