This Offertory motet, the text of which is the oldest known hymn to Mary as Mother of God and Protectoress of the faithful is one of those pieces of Mozart’s music that keeps musicologists busy. It survives in a variety of manuscript sources but because there’s no surviving autograph manuscript there were some who doubted that it was indeed by Mozart however it’s now established that this is indeed an authentic Mozart composition. Another issue discussed by musicologists was whether Mozart originally wrote the melody for an opera and later adapted it for religious purposes, yet a third controversy was whether it should be sung by a soprano and a tenor – I have no idea why anyone would suggest this consider the evidence:
- First it’s in F major, which for Mozart was his "lyrical key"
- Second if you look at the score it’s very clear that Mozart relished the opportunity afforded by the text to pair two evenly matched voices with string accompaniment.
About the recording – the performance below dates from 1992 and features two soloists of the Wiener Sängerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir) – Steven Möckel, who in my opinion is one that choir’s outstanding trebles in my lifetime and Max Emanuel Cenčić who isn’t quite up to Möckel’s standard but who went on to become an outstanding tenor. There are very few recordings of Möckel in existence and I was delighted to discover this live performance on YouTube. Enjoy :-).
Text & Translation: Sub tuum praesidium K198
Sub tuum praesidium confugimus,
We fly to thy patronage,