Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, MOZART: Mass in C Minor, ‘Great Mass’ / Kyrie in D Minor

Justin Davidson

By Justin Davidson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

While posterity thinks of him as a genius, Mozart thought of himself as a professional — a freelance composer who wrote music for money. The exception among the large-scale works is the C minor Mass, which he began on spec in his twenties, never found a market for and consequently left incomplete. Compact and vast, entertaining and lofty, the mass contains some of the most compelling music he ever wrote — which is why scholars have been frustrated by its truncation. Recently, the musicologist Robert Levin distilled a finished version from sketches and guesswork, but this Naxos recording assumes that Mozart's intentions were to leave the piece as it was. He did not die on the job as he did with the Requiem eight years later. It was simply a victim of timing, domestic distress and career demands. If its incompleteness didn't plague the composer enough to complete it, why should it bother us?