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The mass is a quasi-liturgical work that was never in its entirety performed before the mid-19th century as there was no place for a huge solemn mass in Lutheran service and it would have been too long even for the Catholics.
Even in the mid-20th century when it had been established in the repertoire, scholars debated whether it really was ONE work at all, or rather a compilation. (I think by now most honor Bach's obvious effort in bringing together the different parts late in his life, re-using the Gratias as Dona nobis pacem is obviously meant to achieve some unity, despite different ensembles/choir parts (4, 5, 6 and 8) throughout). Nevertheless, it remains a paradoxical work (and this character is totally ignored by modern audiences who of course have a perfect right not to care). I think it is a bit uneven and despite the masterstroke of repeating the great Gratias/Dona nobis at the end, it peters out after the Sanctus (the Benedictus aria is a low point for me and the Osanna is just not up with the Sanctus but of course nothing is).
Sure, most of the choirs are as good as it gets and some arias are nice (Laudamus te and Qui sedes are probably my favorites) but some of the arias are not as good as many others by Bach, I think owing to the more "abstract" text (unlike "Erbarme dich" etc. from Passions). The overly systematic (and rather similar) "ring" structure of both Gloria and Credo and all the symbolism with 100 bars and 9 of this, 24 of that, and 7 voices etc. are something I found fascinating when I first encountered the piece at 17 or 18 (and I had a book analysing all that stuff) but it is also a bit stiff and makes the piece very long. (I have seen it 3 or 4 times in concert but on disc I usually split it up)

Messiah is a non-liturgical quasi-sacred work that is probably considered more "sacred" today than it would have been 250 years ago. If the b minor Mass is some "summa musicotheologica", Messiah is a brilliant popular evangelizing book, a christian worship Rock band ;) Unlike the little I have heard of modern popular Xtian music, I love Messiah. It also has a few lesser arias (I think "The trumpet shall sound" is just too long) but mostly it is one impressive "hit" after the other. (Admittedly, on discs I often split it up as well.) Jennens was apparently a pompous jerk but the libretto is brilliant.
It's not quite such an outlier as Bach's mass but also rather different from most other Handel oratorios in being not dramatic at all, having no acting persons. That might even have been a disadvantage back then but it is a clear advantage today because dramatic oratorios are strange hybrids and we are also not as familiar with details of the Judas Maccabaeus or Samson stories than with the core of the christian story that constitutes Messiah.
 

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Messiah is a non-liturgical quasi-sacred work that is probably considered more "sacred" today than it would have been 250 years ago. If the b minor Mass is some "summa musicotheologica", Messiah is a brilliant popular evangelizing book, a christian worship Rock band ;) Unlike the little I have heard of modern popular Xtian music, I love Messiah. It also has a few lesser arias (I think "The trumpet shall sound" is just too long) but mostly it is one impressive "hit" after the other. (Admittedly, on discs I often split it up as well.) Jennens was apparently a pompous jerk but the libretto is brilliant.
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We have to realise that Messiah is a work to be performed in the theatre not during the church service. Why it was not very well received in England initially. As you say the libretto is brilliant. It was however somewhat far from the Christian rock band of today!
 

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The better comparison than with christian rock would maybe a musical "biblia pauperum" as the pictures in churches showing bible stories were called in the middle ages, except that most of Handel's audience were rather well off.
 

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The B minor mass for me, but this work I prefer listening to just certain parts admittedly. I think it has some of the best music composed in it, but I don't listen to it as one work. The St. Matthew Passion works better in my view as one complete work, but just my opinion. They are both great masterpieces.

I have not listened to that much Handel, but I do certainly like some of his music, I respect him as a great composer. I haven't listened to the Messiah in a long time.
 

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Nevertheless, it remains a paradoxical work (and this character is totally ignored by modern audiences who of course have a perfect right not to care).
I still don't get what's "paradoxical" about the Bach. (I'm guessing that it's the argument "Handel was better because Bach was outdated" again.) Some did complain Bach was too complex, but nobody called Bach outdated in his time. The idea that us moderners have the right to decide today what was paradoxical or not in their time is just plain silly. The through-composition in the G minor mass BWV235 is even forward-looking. It's kind of like the flat-earth conspiracy theory; for instance, "Zelenka, Heinichen, Hasse, Zach, and co. were all composing outdated music in their time without even themselves or their audiences knowing about it." (It's usually the pseudo-experts who obsess over them.) No one with proper musical background in the 18th, 19th centuries would have praised Handel's use of harmony above Bach's. (and this character is totally ignored by modern audiences who of course have a perfect right not to care. I hate to say it, but to be honest, if you care more for harmony, Handel's Messiah is the kind of piece that gets tiring with 3 listenings, Bach's doesn't even with 30.)
 

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hammeredklavier said:
I still don't get what's "paradoxical" about the Bach
The fact that most of it is sort of a patchwork of parodies of earlier cantata movements is paradoxical. Also the dance-like nature of so many of the sections. I love both works, but if forced to choose the choice would be clear: the Mass.
 

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The fact that most of it is sort of a patchwork of parodies of earlier cantata movements is paradoxical. Also the dance-like nature of so many of the sections. I love both works, but if forced to choose the choice would be clear: the Mass.
We all know how notorious a self-plagiarist Handel was, and the dance-like nature of movements like "E'very valley". Using biblical texts in their native language was what the "church composers" (even those of the later era) also did extensively (in their cantatas, graduals, offertories, etc), and the practice doesn't put Handel's Messiah in some special place set apart from Bach's works regarding this issue. Neither of these guys were regarded "outdated" or "paradoxical" in their time by the same reason certain string quartet works of the early 1770s that contain blatantly academic fugues as finales were not.
 

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Liszt, Bruckner, Chopin, Wallace, Bortkiewicz.
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Bach's h-moll Messe is of paramount importance for the German people due to historical (after War) reasons. It is signalizing the rebirth of the German Nation and finishes the recent tragedies Germany suffered (because of our mistakes, of course) For this reason (and of course because I like a lot this work) I voted for the Father.
 

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I still can not make up my mind, so I abstain from voting .
 

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I very clearly expressed what is "paradoxical" (cobbled together, never performed in the shape we have today etc. but nevertheless "opus summum") about the b minor and never referred to any comparison with Handel or to Bach being "outdated" because these arguments are totally independent of this but as usual hammeredklavier is stalking me with his poor comprehension, accompanied by reading weird stuff into what other people (such as I) write.

Just get *any* book on Bach, preferably a bit older, because the claim that the b minor mass was "not really an integral" piece was rather prominent among Bach scholars (who certainly had no beef against Bach and neither have I) in the 1950s and 60s.
As a teenager I got a small volume on the b minor basically together with my first recording and the author, Walter Blankenburg, spends several pages (in a short, popular book!) to argue *for* the integrity of the Mass.
 

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Bach's h-moll Messe is of paramount importance for the German people due to historical (after War) reasons. It is signalizing the rebirth of the German Nation and finishes the recent tragedies Germany suffered (because of our mistakes, of course)
Do you have any source for this? I have never heard anything like this and neither that the piece became particularly important or more frequently played in the early 1950s? To my understanding in Germany the most popular large Bach works by some margin have been the Christmas oratorio for obvious reasons and the St. Matthew.
I suspect that in the more protestant, more Bach-affine regions a Latin "catholic" mass was long met with some doubts (it's also the most difficult for the choir by some margin, I think). In any case I am also not aware of traditions to have the b minor mass as regularly as one of the Passions in Lent or the Xmas oratorio before/around Xmas. This might have mostly practical reasons for nonprofessional choirs.
So in my impression, quite to the contrary, the b minor mass has no special connection or importance for Germans, it seems to me the most "international" of Bach's pieces (naturally, because of the form and the language) and for the reasons just sketched probably the least frequently sung of his 4 large scale choral works.
 

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I very clearly expressed what is "paradoxical" (cobbled together, never performed in the shape we have today etc. but nevertheless "opus summum") about the b minor and never referred to any comparison with Handel or to Bach being "outdated" because these arguments are totally independent of this but as usual hammeredklavier is stalking me with his poor comprehension, accompanied by reading weird stuff into what other people (such as I) write.
Sorry, I still don't get what you meant by "paradoxical". Handel's Messiah was also performed sparingly, in excerpts (eg. in New York in 1770). That didn't make it "paradoxical". Vivaldi's work was virtually forgotten in the 19th century; that didn't make it "paradoxical". Apparently no one else has got what you're saying either, cause you apparently don't think Dissident's guess on your convoluted writings "correct" either. You obsess over whether a work was performed or not; but maybe the Messiah was closer to being like what you described of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies?
(C'mon; do we have to listen to all these over and over?)
 

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Sorry, I still don't get what you meant by "paradoxical". Handel's Messiah was also performed sparingly, in excerpts (eg. in New York in 1770). That didn't make it "paradoxical". Vivaldi's work was virtually forgotten in the 19th century; that didn't make it "paradoxical". Apparently no one else has got what you're saying either, cause you apparently don't think Dissident's guess on your convoluted writings "correct" either. You obsess over whether a work was performed or not; but maybe the Messiah was closer to being like what you described of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies?
(C'mon; do we have to listen to all these over and over?)
Well your question was answered. If you don't think that's paradoxical, fine.
 
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