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Thread: Your favorite mass

  1. #91
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    I'm gonna go with Bernstein's Mass, having sung sections of it in a chber arrangement. Probably one of the most brilliant texts I've ever come across as well as some of the most delightful and inventive music!

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  3. #92
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    I don't think Schubert's No. 2, the G Major Mass, has yet been mentioned. It is quite lovely.

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  5. #93
    Senior Member Dirge's Avatar
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    My favorite mass is Josquin’s Missa “L’homme armé” super voces musicales …

    The popular tune “L’homme armé” (“The Armed Man”) was used as the cantus firmus (a pre-existing “fixed song” around which a polyphonic composition is built) for many masses in the Early and Middle Renaissance (more than 40 survive), not the least of which is Josquin’s Missa “L’homme armé” super voces musicales. The title extension, Super voces musicales, indicates that the “L’homme armé” theme is transposed one step higher up the hexachord in each succeeding movement: C (Kyrie) > D (Gloria) > E (Credo) > F (Sanctus) > G (Agnus Dei I) > A (Agnus Dei III). “Transposed” may not be the proper term, as such things were tricky matters in the unequally tempered world of old church modes, trickier still in works like this that are only nebulously modal to begin with—it’s the Renaissance modal equivalent of what in modern music might be described as “chromatic with strong tonal tendencies.” In any event, that’s the general scheme of the Mass.

    Most of Josquin’s masses, including his other “L’homme armé” mass, the Sexti toni, are very much of their time, thoroughly up-to-date Middle Renaissance masses of relative rhythmic and harmonic freedom and an almost tonal character, but Super voces musicales is in many ways a throwback to the dawn of the Renaissance, a more rigorous and prescribed and mathematically oriented time when mensuration canons and isorhythmic motets still roamed the Earth. This Mass, in fact, features several mensuration canons (a.k.a. prolation canons), with the impressive three-out-of-one mensuration canon of Agnus Dei II being widely celebrated. (A mensuration canon is one in which the different voices progress at different speeds; there’s a definition and a nice little example from the just-mentioned Agnus Dei II at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensuration_canon )

    In addition to its formality and old-fashioned virtues, the Mass, as Peter Phillips of The Tallis Scholars fame points out, is also notable for the overlapping of its polyphonic ranges: in most four-voice polyphony of the time, the two middle voices are close in range and always crossing each other’s paths, but the upper voice usually stays pretty high and rarely descends into that middle range; likewise, the lower usually stays pretty low and rarely ascends into the middle range. Here, however, the upper and lower voices do a lot of descending and ascending and spend an uncommon amount of time infringing on the middle range. This compacting of voices gives the work a dense, tightly packed feel. By contrast, Josquin separates the voices quite widely in Sexti toni, and that work has a spacious, open feel about it.

    Such prescribed formality, restricted range, and respect for the old ways might sound like a recipe for one deadly dull mass, but Josquin thrives on the challenge of composing within these bounds, which seems to focus and inspire him to be as inventive as possible “within the rules,” to make the utmost of what he’s still free to do. In effect, the more he embraces these limitations, the more he transcends them, finding a rare and elusive beauty in the abstract polyphonic rigor and a sincere and unaffected expressiveness in the emotionally guarded, almost academic, ways of the past. In many ways, Josquin’s mass is the antithesis of the very mass that likely inspired it, Busnois’s athletic and free-spirited Missa “L’homme armé,” a work that defies convention as Josquin’s work exploits it. When listening to the results, it’s curious to think that the two works evolve from the same tune.

    As for recordings, I strongly favor the one by Bruno Turner & Pro Cantione Antiqua (PCA) on Archiv. PCA puts the work across with tremendous conviction in a highly wrought performance that has all the earnestness and ardency and hushed intensity and sense of purpose that any listener could ask for—more than many listeners may want, in fact. PCA employs two voices per part but cuts back to one voice per part at times; vocal balances aren’t always ideal, with prominent counter-tenors and occasionally reticent basses, and the very counter-tenor-y sounding counter-tenors won’t win over those who hate counter-tenors, but such matters tend to be forgotten once one is drawn into the performance.

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    Senior Member Fugue Meister's Avatar
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    Either the Missa Solemnis or Mozart's K. 427 the great mass in c.. Depends on the day.

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    I love Bach's b mass but I prefer the passions which aren't masses. Just felt I had to justify leaving it out before.

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    Hi, newbie here, so I would like to know the particualr characteristics defining a mass, in relationship with the opera or symphonies, making each one as good as can be according to each taste...

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    Obrecht's Missa "Malheur me bat" is pretty awesome, and obviously a precursor to Josquin.


  10. #98
    Senior Member Headphone Hermit's Avatar
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    Josquin des Prez - Missa l'homme armee
    Bach - B minor
    Ockeghem - Missa Prolationum

    but there are many, many others that are wonderful too
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils." Berlioz, 1856

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    Listening to Dvorak's Mass in D as I type this!

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    I love Schubert's Mass in G, but even it can't beat these:






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    Victoria: Missa Vidi speciosam

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hmmbug View Post
    I don't think Schubert's No. 2, the G Major Mass, has yet been mentioned. It is quite lovely.
    I finished a Schubert biography and the author believed Schubert's 1st and 6th masses were his strongest. I wonder if anyone else agrees with this? Salieri heard the 1st mass at its performance and told Schubert, his student at the time, "you will do me great honor!"

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  18. #103
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    One of my top favorite Kyries comes from Obrecht's Missa Fortuna desperata:



    You can find this recording by The Sound and the Fury at the publisher's webshop:

    http://shop.orf.at/oe1/

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  20. #104
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    Mass of Creation, Marty Haugen is one of my favs ... so is the Coronation Mass by Mozart.
    I've been the accompanist for both at one time or another.

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  22. #105
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    Any of the six late Haydn Masses would fit the bill. Relatively pithy.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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