Austria, 1798. Napoleon’s forces threaten Vienna, and Haydn entitles his grandest sacred work to date ‘Mass in A Time of Anxiety’.
However, within weeks of its first performance, Nelson’s victory in Egypt checked Napoleon’s advance, Haydn’s militaristic trumpets and drums now seem to signify triumph as much as they herald trouble ahead, and the piece gains a new nickname. Mozart’s ‘solemn’ Vespers often seem anything but, and they share with Haydn’s mass a joyous affirmation of faith in music both uplifting and serene. In both works, it is the choir who has the star role, and who better to present two classical choral masterpieces than Harry Christophers’ superb forces. Mozart’s famous little string divertimento provides more balm for the soul, should any be needed.