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30. NOV | Roman Catholic Dome
Le Concert Spirituel
Hervé Niquet

Mozart in Salzburg



19:30  Pre-Concert Talk HERVÉ NIQUET

20:00 Concert


"Our church music is very different from that of Italy, especially since a liturgy, even the most solemn one, which the archbishop-prince himself conducts, must not last more than three-quarters of an hour. Special study is needed to succeed in this type of composition."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (4 September 1776)

50 years ago, I sang Mozart's Short Masses as a soprano boy in my childhood choir in Picardie. I felt an incredible happiness doing so. And I’ve been wanting to rediscover the same happiness with my friends from Le Concert Spirituel ever since. But not without adding a few unknown treasures, it’s in our blood!

The brevity of these Salzburg masses, due to an officiant (Colloredo) who preferred speedy services to the heavy and endless pump of the great masses, allows us to play two of them in the same evening. Adding prelude, gradual, offertory and motet of communion has been easy and a researcher’s gourmandise by borrowing some works of the brothers Haydn, Michael and Joseph. None of the authors pulls the cover to him, all three being concentrated to serve with their best and with all their art the divine service!

A few minutes of happiness thanks to a bishop in a hurry, it's heaven, isn't it?”

Hervé Niquet

The scientific developments of the 18th century engaged the thought towards a certain abstraction that soon spilled over into music. Thus, instrumental music, which until then operated mainly by analogy, gradually acquired the ability to express itself without the support of text or imitation. Composers did not stop using instrumental processes as a subtext in vocal music and thus relaunched the debate on the relationship between music and text, which takes a very particular importance in sacred music.

Indeed, the text, derived from the divine Word, should naturally occupy the first place.

Yet, the divine text evokes a certain form of abstraction: what could be more subtle than to let music transmit, without words, the ideas of the divine text?

The programme of this concert invites us to experiment with this questioning, Mozart's Short Masses KV 192 and KV 194, composed in 1774 two months apart, each adopting a different position.


The Short Mass KV 192 makes extensive use of instrumental processes also observable in Mozart's two Church Sonatas in C major (KV 328) and A major (KV 225) as well as in Joseph Haydn's Organ Concerto Hob XVIII : 8. These allow him to musically stage the incarnation, untranslatable by words. Mozart even creates a musical subtext in the Credo, using the four famous notes of the Jupiter Symphony (No. 41). These are soon repeated under the word credo until they are associated with it. Later, their appearance under another text inevitably colored it with a fervent faith.


Under the influence of the Italian masses, the Short Mass KV 194 constrains instrumental independence in order to let the text unfold, like it does in Michael Haydn's Ave verum MH 533 and the offertory Sub tuum praesidium MH 654 as well as the Alleluia from the motet O coelitum beati Hob XXIIIa : G9 by Joseph Haydn.

Despite a certain musical unity, this mass more readily illustrates the text with colours and momentary vocal effects. Thus, the Credo sets to music "and homo factus is "by moving from the soprano solo to the bass, and illustrates the opposition between "mortuorum" and "vitam" by a contrast of tempo, nuance and range.

Faced with the questioning of the place of music explored by the two short Masses, Te Deum n°1 in C major Hob. XXIIIc : 1 by Haydn and especially Mozart's Ave verum KV 618 seek synthesis. In this way, they respond to the ideal of balance considered essential to beauty by 18th century society. Stripped of the dispersion generated by the illustration of a text but also of too much instrumental development, these two pieces offer a refined character.

They concentrate all their expressiveness in few means: harmonic colours and melody fluctuations. The expression brought back to the essential then touches the most intimate.


Romane Leconte


HERVÉ NIQUET, conductor




Kyrie and Gloria from Missa brevis in F Major Kv. 192


Sonata da chiesa in C Major Kv. 328


Credo from Missa brevis in F Major Kv. 192


Offertorium "Non nobis Domine"


Sanctus and Benedictus from Missa brevis in F Major Kv. 192


"Sub tuum praesidium" in C Major MH 654


"Ave Verum" in F Major      


Agnus Dei from Missa brevis in F Major Kv. 192

Prelude, organ improvisation


Kyrie and Gloria from Missa brevis in D Major Kv. 194


Sonata da chiesa in D Major Kv. 225


Credo from Missa brevis in D Major Kv. 194


Adagio from Concerto for organ no. 8


Sanctus and Benedictus from Missa brevis in D Major Kv. 194


Ave verum Kv. 618


Agnus Dei from Missa brevis in D Major Kv. 194


Te Deum no1. in C Major



Le Concert Spirituel – choir and orchestra - was founded in 1987 by Hervé Niquet. Its name was inspired by the first private concert society of France, founded in the 18th century.

Performing each year in Paris at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Château de Versailles, Metz Arsenal, and abroad (Brussels BOZAR, London’s Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre and Royall Albert Hall, Madrid’s Auditorio Nacional, Warsaw’s Philharmonic Hall, etc.), the ensemble is considered nowadays one of the best of its kind on the international stage.

Le Concert Spirituel specialises in sacred music performances, both baroque and romantic, and, with both Centre de musique baroque de Versailles and Palazzetto Bru Zane, also unveils a lyrical heritage that has unjustly fallen into oblivion. It has earned prestigious prizes for these achievements, such as, recently, the 2023 German Record Critics' Award for the recording of Boismortier’s Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse,and Opéra Magazine’s Diamant for the recording of Gluck’s Echo et Narcisse.

These musical adventures were also the opportunity to work with directors and choreographers directors as diverse as Karole Armitage, Georges Lavaudant, Joachim Schloemer, Patrice Thibaud, Christian Schiaretti, Julien Lubek and Cécile Roussat (Mozart's The Magic Flute in French), Corinne and Gilles Benizio aka Shirley and Dino (Purcell's King Arthur, Boismortier’s Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse), Vincent Tavernier (Molière and Lully's Les Amants Magnifiques, Le Malade Imaginaire), and Marshall Pynkoski (Grétry’s Richard Coeur de Lion).

The training and professionalization of young musicians is also an important part of Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel’s work, notably through a partnership with the Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Paris : the ensemble welcomes young instrumentalists and singers to its productions each season, on an audition basis. Passing on this passion to the youth through outreach initiatives such as open rehearsals and workshops with school and middle school children is also crucial, be it in partnership with the Massy Opera as well as with Paris’ City programme « L'Art pour grandir » in parisian schools, or in French regions. Since 2019, Le Concert Spirituel also carries out regular musical interventions for the children hospitalized at Hôpital Necker - Enfants malades (AP-HP).

Le Concert Spirituel’s main projects this season include its Première at the Opéra-Comique with “La Fille de Madame Angot” by Lecocq (staged by Richard Brunel), and its return to the Royal Opera of Versailles with Boismortier's “Don Quichotte at the Duchess’ “(staged by Corinne and Gilles Benizio), as well as the comeback of its comédie ballet by Molière, “Le Mariage Forcé” (staged by Vincent Tavernier) at the Massy Opera, Meaux Theatre, Avignon Opera and Postdam Musikfestspiele Sans-Souci.

In concert, the ensemble’s season starts with Haendel’s “Coronation Anthems” at the Opéra national du Capitole de Toulouse (also presented at Massy Opera in the spring), followed by Vivaldi’s “Gloria and Magnificat” at the Seine Musicale, and in Paris, Gounod’s “Vocal Masses” at Musée d’Orsay’s Auditorium, Campra and Desmarest’s “Iphigénie en Tauride” at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées – the third opus of the four-year (2022-25) cross-residency between Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Centre de musique baroque de Versailles and Le Concert Spirituel, recorded for Alpha Classics.

The season will close with Mozart's “Ave verum and Short Masses” at the Théâtre impérial de Compiègne , and Fauré’s “Requiem” at BOZAR in Brussels, to celebrate Fauré’s most beloved piece on his death centenary.

Since June 2015, Le Concert Spirituel has an exclusive recording engagement with Alpha Classics. Have already been released: CD Vivaldi's Gloria/Magnificat, Cherubini and Plantade’s Requiem, Lully’s Persée (1770), Handel’s Messiah, Benevolo’s Missa si deus pro nobis and L’Opéra des opéras, Berlioz’s Messe solennelle and Lully and Francoeur’s Armide (1778), Haendel’s Coronation Anthems & Dettingen Te Deum, and lately, Marais’ Ariane et Bacchus. Charpentier’s Médée will be published in the beginning of 2024.

Le Concert Spirituel is in residency at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées as part of the "cross-residency" scheme set up throughout France by the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles.

This residency enables Le Concert Spirituel to recreate and record operas by Marais, Charpentier, Campra-Desmarest and Lully between 2022 and 2025. The productions from 2023 to 2025 are generously supported by Aline Foriel-Destezet.

Le Concert Spirituel is funded by the Ministry of Culture (DRAC Ile-de-France) and the City of Paris. It thanks the donors of its Endowment Fund, and its individual donors of "Le Carré des Muses".
Le Concert Spirituel, 2020 award-winner of the Liliane Bettencourt choral singing prize, is supported by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller.
Le Concert Spirituel benefits from the support of its Grand Mécène : the Bru Foundation.

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Photo: Festival de Montmorillon

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(c) Henri Buffetaut


Harpsichordist, organist, pianist, singer, composer, choirmaster and conductor, Hervé Niquet is one of the most inventive musical personalities of recent years, recognised as an eminent specialist in the French repertoire from the Baroque era to Debussy.

He founded his ensemble, Le Concert Spirituel, in 1987, aiming to revive the great French motet. Over the past 35 years, the ensemble has made its mark in the performance practice of the Baroque repertoire, rediscovering both well-known and rare european masterpieces of that time. Recently, the Choir has been awarded he Liliane Bettencourt Prize for Choral Singing 2020.

Believing that there is only one unbroken French music throughout the centuries, Hervé Niquet is invited as a guest conductor by many international orchestras, with whom he explores the repertoires of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as the OSM in Montréal (Canada), Kanazawa Orchestra (Japan), Münchner Rundfunkorchester (Germany), Sinfonia Varsovia (Poland), Orchestre Philharmonique Royal Liège and Vlaams Radio Orkest (Belgium), Gulbenkian Orchestra Lisbon and Casa da Musica Porto (Portugal), and in France, the Orchestre de chambre de Paris, Orchestre national de Lyon, Orchestre de l’Opéra de Rouen, Saint-Etienne, Orchestre national d’Ile-de-France, etc.

This season 2023/24, after Reynaldo Hahn’s O mon bel inconnu with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Hervé Niquet will lead both the Choir and Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse for six festive Christmas and New Year concerts, followed by two performances of Hector Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ, with Montréal Symphony Orchestra, and a staged production of Charles Gounod’s Le Tribut de Zamora at Saint-Etienne Opera House. The season will close with two concerts dedicated to Camille Saint-Saëns and Benjamin Godard at Rouen Opera House.

Hervé Niquet is also deeply involved in teaching. It is essential for him to pass on the fruit of his work on interpretation, the conventions of the time and the latest musicological discoveries, as well as the realities and demands of the musician's craft. He demonstrates this by giving master-classes at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique of Paris and Lyon, Schola Cantorum Basel (Switzerland), Mc Gill University in Montréal (Canada), Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Paris, Académie du festival d’Ambronay, Jeune Orchestre de l’Abbaye (Saintes), and through the professional training programme « La Pépinière du Concert Spirituel », welcoming and tutoring new students each season.

Hervé Niquet is the artistic director of the Saintes Festival’s 2023 and 2024 editions, and has been artistic director of Saint-Riquier Festival for 4 years between 2014 and 2017.

For his career, he has received a number of awards : Commander of Arts and Letters, Knight of Arts and Letters, and recently the Ehrenpreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik for the quality and diversity of his recordings.

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