I'm not at all 'a believer.' It is a terrific piece. It seems some of the best religious music was written by composers who did not much or at all subscribe to any kind of spiritual dogma -- they may have been spiritual, but 'non-believers' since you put it that way.I'm not much of a believer -- but neither was Janacek. It's still a terrific piece of music.
I see it as less about God and more about the beauty of nature. There's a theory that he wrote it for his muse and confidant Kamila Stosslova, it was like music for their wedding in his imagination.My favourite Mass. I got how to talk to God in it. I wonder what believers think of it... How do you like it, guys?
All the different versions are fascinating, but the standard one is for me the tautest and most satisfying. Framing with the Intrada doesn't quite feel right! I suppose it's what you first and most regularly heard that works best!! The alternatives are well worth hearing, of course, especially for the weird and whacky extra passages in the Veruju.I see that nobody has commented about their being multiple versions of the mass. Until about 25 years ago everyone played the slightly revised and simplified 1927/28 version ('standard' version) which came about for various reasons including that the performers found the original version to be too difficult. Since then there have been two updated versions which go back towards Janacek's original intent. There are numerous differences, particularly in metre (e.g. 'Gospodi Pomiluj' which is in 4 on the so-called standard version and 5 in the original). There are also cuts including a notable one in 'Veruju' which was very disconcerting the first time that I heard it! One other difference about which there is some argument is with the Intrada. The standard version only has it at the end but Janacek's original notes show it as also being played at the very beginning. One revised (un-revised?!) version (e.g. the 1994 Mackerras/Chandos) includes the initial Intrada, another (e.g. the recent Netopil recording) does not. Whatever you believe (and remember that Janacek died in 1928 so was unable to give further consideration to the score), if you are only familiar with the standard version, you owe it to yourself to hear something closer to Janacek's original intent.