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Thursday, March 15th, 2018
7:30 PM
Mozart 250’s exploration of the year 1768 continues with a rare performance of Haydn’s Applausus. This one-act cantata was commissioned as an act of homage to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Abbot Rainer Kollman of the Cistercian monastery in Zwettl taking his vows. Haydn composed the work in early 1768 but was unable to travel to Zwettl to supervise its performance; he therefore wrote a letter giving detailed instructions of how his music should be performed, and this document has survived, providing fascinating practical information and insights into eighteenth-century performance practice.

The tradition of the congratulatory Applausus cantata had been an inherent part of courtly and monastic festivities since the midseventeenth century, and Haydn’s score largely conforms to these traditions. The Latin text describes the four cardinal virtues praising the ‘head of the house’, and the arias are long and in full ‘da capo’ form. Haydn’s music, though, is consummately judged, providing plenty of reflective beauty and vocal gymnastics, and two of the arias incorporate extensive instrumental solos – one for harpsichord and one for violin – which duet exquisitely with the vocal line.

This concert offers the first UK performance in recent years of this charming and intriguing curiosity.