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Thread: Share your favorite composers and works of sacred music

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    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Default Share your favorite composers and works of sacred music

    For starters, I'd like to showcase Vivaldi's Credos and Bach's Passions:



    01. Credo in unum Deum
    Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem,
    factorem caeli et terrae,
    visibilium omnium, et invisibilium.
    Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum,
    Filium Dei unigenitum,
    et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula,
    Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
    Deum verum de Deo vero,
    genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri,
    per quem omnia facta sunt.
    Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram
    salutem descendit de coelis.

    02. Et incarnatus est
    Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto
    ex Maria virgine, et homo factus est.

    03. Crucifixus
    Crucifixus etiam pro nobis:
    sub Pontio Pilato passus, et sepultus est.

    04. Et resurrexit
    Et resurrexit tertia die, secundum
    scripturas. Et ascendit in caelum:
    sedet ad dexteram Patris.
    Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos
    et mortuos: cuius regni non erit finis.
    Et in Spiritum Sanctum Dominum,
    et vivificantem: qui ex Patre Filioque procedit,
    qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur
    et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.
    Et unam sanctam catholicam
    et apostolicam ecclesiam. Confiteor unum
    baptisma in remissionem peccatorum.
    Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum,
    et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

    The work has some of the bombast and cadences between the choir and instruments that you might expect from a Mass, but the ensemble is more sparse. Because of the size of ensemble, the woodwinds and viols sound more personal and interact in lovely harmony, while the foundation is playing short scale turns and making repetitive leaps in perfect intervals as is the norm for Vivaldi. The organ makes an exciting entrance in the fourth creed, and the register it plays in, blending harmonically with the choir, is a welcome sound amidst the excitement of that movement.

    Another thing that gets me, is how suitable the music is for creeds. A creed is not so much a narrative, as it is a primary revelation with relative traditions dispersed with it (like the Apostle's Creed which isn't exactly a narrative). As such, it would not seem fitting for the choir to fawn at every phrase and endeavor to express each line as an individual line (much like is done with oratorios, magnificats, dixit dominus' and masses). The orchestra follows suit and sets a pretty concrete mood for each creed as well.

    And a Latin lexicon for those interested in the Creeds, before I get into Bach's Passions: http://latinlexicon.org/search_latin.php
    Last edited by Lukecash12; Nov-02-2011 at 12:53.
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    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    In herr unser herscher just as soon as they half shout "herr" and repeat it twice more with refrain, and then "dessen Rhum in allen Landen herrlich ist" is graciously spoken before the basses resound it, I know that I'm listening to one long prayer. It's phrased like one, and the tenor recitatives set the precedent with an excitement that readies me for the choruses. The arias are sparse and scored in a very refined manner, with clearer counterpoint and more pause and refrain than the rest of the work; That makes them refreshing.

    Of course, the Johannes Passion is very dramatic, with tension building motifs pulled out like taffy by the strings and choir. The pulse of the bass is a distinguishing factor as well. Overall, and especially during the climaxes, you can hear the parts fighting for your attention melody-wise. In this Passion, discord and timbre feature very prominently because of it's fighting parts, so you could say it's "less refined".





    What makes the Matthias Passion special? Tchaikovsky himself would have been hard pressed to achieve the creativity and interest produced as the parts make their entrances while movements and new themes are being introduced. The woodwinds are utilized to surprisingly great affect all throughout. Creative instrumentation, very well handled dissonances, and a grand exploration of parts and orchestration away from predominant counterpoint that prefigures later grand scale accomplishments pretty well. It may be less exciting pulse-wise and many more cadences end in refrain if in tension, unlike the the Johannes Passion, but an intellectually inspiring exhibition can be just as moving as a prayer.
    Last edited by Lukecash12; Nov-02-2011 at 12:52.
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    Brahms wasn’t a believer, but I get a lot out of his sacred works. His Motet, Opus 74, No. 1, is a reworking of an exercise in polyphony he called the Missa Canonica, but he turns it into an effective setting of Job 3:20-23, “Why has the light been granted to those lost in woe and lifeblood to the sore afflicted?”

    It’s in a questioning D minor. In measure three, the C sharp leading tone in the alto drops down, like an unresolved question, and the sopranos attempt to resolve it with an answer by coming in on D. In the next “Warum,” the sopranos leave a G sharp hanging, and the altos attempt an answer on an A. Their D sharp on “Muhseligen” is left hanging, and the tenors attempt an answer on E, “Warum.” From then on, almost every beat carries dissonance in its counterpoint. It ends with the altos in an unresolved question, “Warum,” dropping from C sharp to A.

    It’s an effective setting of the feeling even people of faith can have when they grope for answers. I could go into how Brahms takes the piece through to the end and his resolution, where the altos’ C sharp is finally resolved by chorale voice leading in the last measure of movement 4, but I think this is enough for now.

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    Senior Member Chrythes's Avatar
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    Why he chose using the bible as a philosophical source of inspiration instead of referring to Ancient Greece?
    And overall - why did THEY, most composers used the bible? Is it because it was more widely available than Mythology and the writings of Ancient Greece and Rome philosophers? Was it more appealing because of religious reasons or because the way it was written? In fact, how many of the famous composers were truly religious?

    Anyways,
    Gorecki uses biblical context in his most famous 3rd symphony.

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    Senior Member some guy's Avatar
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    All the music I know is sacred.

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    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrythes View Post
    Why he chose using the bible as a philosophical source of inspiration instead of referring to Ancient Greece?
    And overall - why did THEY, most composers used the bible? Is it because it was more widely available than Mythology and the writings of Ancient Greece and Rome philosophers? Was it more appealing because of religious reasons or because the way it was written? In fact, how many of the famous composers were truly religious?

    Anyways,
    Gorecki uses biblical context in his most famous 3rd symphony.
    Simple: The western tradition of art music was driven primarily by the Church. Our choral voices come from reciting the passion narratives, our sense of counterpoint comes from the polyphonic music of those employed by the Church, many grand instruments were conceived for worship services, such as the psaltery, organ, and clavier. The scale and compositional depth of the masterworks of classical music relies primarily on this tradition of music in the Church having paved the way. Bach had said that all music was to be made in worship.

    Also, Europe was predominantly Christian throughout all that time, and just about everyone attended church services that lasted hours longer than they do today. Composers went to church to meet other composers. If I remember right, when Sylvius Weiss went to church one day he had his hand bit by an Italian violinist who was jealous of his skill in counterpoint. Beethoven made several famous comments about the music of others while attending mass.

    As for Greek philosophy and art: There may have been a revival, but the manuscripts weren't terribly accessible. It's doubtful that everyone read Plato's Republic, or Homer and Hesiod's poems. Those who were more acquainted with the Greek tradition of thinking were mostly dilettantes at best.
    There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.
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    The Kyrie from Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor is another searching piece. It is labeled E minor, but it’s really E Phrygian (like if you played a C scale beginning on E). Though it is simple in its forces, it is very expressive. Like at the beginning: the second sopranos start on a B, then the first sopranos enter on a C; it begins in dissonance. The Christie section is more intense and contrapuntal. The Kyrie returns, more ornamented and developed.

    It sounds to me like the singers are on a cliff’s edge, continually singing into the darkness, waiting for a response.


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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    My favorite hands down is Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine. This piece comes closer to making me have a spiritual experience than anyone else has achieved.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8pc4Env4xA[/yt]

    Also there are the Sinfoniae Sacrae of Heinrich Schutz. This excerpt sends chills up my spine when the vocal starts.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjRfof7WsHo[/yt]

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    Palestrina's Stabat Mater has always been one of the most moving pieces of sacred music for me... my favourite recording of it was by one of the British a capella choirs, but I lost track of the cd years ago and can't remember which group it was..
    It comes across as I'm sure it was intended.. deeply spiritual.







    From a different era, on a different scale, and in an entirely different way Bruckner's Te Deum was love at first listen.. the contrapuntal interweaving of his themes here inspires me.

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    This is a great topic.

    Perhaps my all time favorite is Bach's Cantata #82 Ich habe genug, sung by a bass voice (such as Hans Hotter's).

    Right up there must be Brahms' German Requiem, and Mozart's Requiem. Words fail me.

    And a few others that I love:

    Allegri's Miserere
    Szymanowksi's Stabat Mater
    Bach's Mass in B minor
    Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms
    Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
    Schutz's The Christmas Story
    Mozart's "Great" Mass
    Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli

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    Quote Originally Posted by science View Post
    This is a great topic.

    Perhaps my all time favorite is Bach's Cantata #82 Ich habe genug, sung by a bass voice (such as Hans Hotter's).

    Right up there must be Brahms' German Requiem, and Mozart's Requiem. Words fail me.

    And a few others that I love:

    Allegri's Miserere
    Szymanowksi's Stabat Mater
    Bach's Mass in B minor
    Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms
    Pergolesi's Stabat Mater
    Schutz's The Christmas Story
    Mozart's "Great" Mass
    Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli
    A great list. Mozart's Requiem is another big one for me, as are some of the other great requiems (Verdi, Faure).

    Also worthy of mention is Dvorak's Stabat mater - a great but perhaps somewhat lesser known setting.

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    Let me go really obscure once as well. There is a composer named Jirasek whose mass is phe-nom-en-al. Must be heard.

    I have no idea what is going on with the video here, but the music is right. (Usually I am ideologically opposed to music via youtube but out of sheer desperation to share this I will make an exception, dealing a fatal blow to my integrity.) This is the Kyrie.


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    An obscure little gem. The Amen at 3:47 always gets me



    And of course, one of my favorites of all time


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    Elfen Lied - Lilium
    a song from an anime
    the song tells about the Holy Bible
    It's possible that it is not a sacred music
    yet I like it.

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    I've always been quite fond of The Great Mass in c-minor, kv427


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