Today for Classical Sunday, I’m featuring an old family favourite soprano soloist, Kiri Te Kanawa.
One of my favourite pieces in the New Zealand soprano’s repertoire is the fifth movement of the Vesperae solennes de confessore in C, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). The Laudate Dominum omnes gentes is a setting of the two-verse Psalm 117 (numbered 116 in the Greek and Latin versions of the Bible). Several other classical composers set the psalm to music, including Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), William Byrd (c1540-1643) and others.
I am only familiar with the Mozart setting, which is divine; a wonderfully serene piece to sit and listen to. A CD that I bought in the 1980s includes a three-minute-and-59-second recording of it. The version I’m featuring today is over a full minute longer at five minutes, 11 seconds. I love the slower tempo, which makes the music so much more calming and meditative, as Te Kanawa slows down her delivery of the beautiful verses.
I’ve heard a few other interpretations of this piece, including one a few days ago with the German soprano Edda Moser, who is remarkable. However, no one I’ve heard can match the warmth and depth of Te Kanawa’s voice whose music was often heard at family parties from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The Laudate Dominum will be familiar to many of you, and some may recall it from the soundtrack of Netflix’s The Crown.
Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the audio of the recording of Kiri Te Kanawa, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus, directed by Colin Davis (1927-2013), from Te Kanawa’s 1972 album of sacred compositions by Mozart, posted on the LSO YouTube topic channel: