Author Topic: Organ masses  (Read 6623 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #60 on: October 16, 2018, 05:54:22 AM »
Some notes on the genre by Richard Lester

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One of the earliest historical references to Christians coming together for worship, can be traced back to the first apology of St Justin Martyr, which called upon all people living in cities, or the countryside, to gather in one place on Sundays to hear the teachings of the prophets and the apostles, and after prayers, thanksgivings and the kiss of peace, to partake of bread, and wine mixed with water. The first apology also makes reference to the substance of bread and wine becoming the actual Body and Blood of Our Lord (First apology 66:1-20 [AD 148]); a theological phenomenon in the Catholic Church now known as transubstantiation. Through the centuries, the liturgy gradually evolved and through the pontificate of Pope Gregory I (590-604), plainchant was also collected and codified. During the 9th century, other influences spread throughout Western Europe, including the introduction of symbolic ceremonies; the blessing of candles, palms, ashes and many of the rites of Holy Week. The Middle Ages witnessed the spread of Christianity throughout much of Europe, and the growth of monasticism shaped the way in which the Mass was celebrated. From the last quarter of the 15th century, the Mass text printed in the Roman Missal appeared in numerous, but less orthodox editions, and it was evident that a degree of standardisation was required. Owing to the diversity of usage that had arisen, and the influence of Protestantism on the Liturgy, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) decided that further ammendments to the liturgy were necessary, and in 1562 a commission for this purpose was instigated. When the Council disbanded in 1563, the work of the commission was entrusted to Pope Pius IV (1559-1565) and then to his successor, Pius V (1566- 1572), who standerdised the Holy Mass by promulgating a new edition of the Roman Missal, Quo primum rempore, on July 14, 1570. Pope Clement VIII, elected in 1592, set up a committee to amend the Cæremoniale Episcaporum (a book containing, amongst other effects, the rites of various church services), resulting in fresh guidelines on liturgucal music, and duly published in the Apostolic letter “Cum Novissime” on July 14th 1600.

The history of the Organ Mass in which choir and organ alternate (alternatim), dates back to around the fourteenth century; fragments of which evolved from the earliest known source - the Faenza Codex of c.1400. In essence, this manuscript contained the very first collections of keyboard music, including versions of the Kyrie and Gloria, plus the oldest surviving example of an organ mass, Cunctipotens genitor Deus, which was clearly intended to alternate with voices. By the 1560s, the genre had become a regular part of the Mass Ordinary. A few composers of the mid to late Renaissance, including Giammateo Asola, Girolamo Diruta and Adriano Banchieri, refer to the manner in which organists improvised around the chant melody. Of the written out Italian variety, those by Girolamo Cavazzoni, Andrea Gabrieli, Claudio Merulo and Girolamo Frescobaldi were probably designed for those organists who were not so adept at improvisation; in addition to preserving for posterity, unique examples of an important genre. The Masses on these recordings however, predate the guidelines laid down by the Cæremoniale Episcoporum iussu Clementis VIII PONT: MAX: (Rome 1600) which regulated the use of the organ in the liturgy. Although widely practised at the time, the genre received adverse criticism by those in ecclesiastical authority, who considered that the sacred wording of the liturgy should be distinctly audible; in some cases liturgical text was recited aloud whilst the organ played during the verses. However, detailed references to the performance of the alternatim Mass prior to 1600 are rare, and the Cæremoniale was designed to respond to some rather wayward anomalies.


I also this comment he makes on performance was interesting

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Stephen Bonta [in The uses of the Sonata da Chiesa, and Bolognese instrumental music 1660-1710.]writes that the practice of inserting other movements into the Mass at strategic points was common practice. His study of contemporary treatises highlights around seven places in the Mass where instrumental pieces could act either as support for an activity (e.g. Elevation of the Host, Offertory, Communion etc), or as a substitute for plainchant. These, as I have endeavoured to indicate in performance, vary between the serious and dignified ricercar, and the more tuneful, lightly buoyant nature of the canzona. The canzoni alla francese (songs in a French style) are also included in the masses of Gabrieli and Merulo, as their popularity towards the end of the sixteenth century was much in evidence. In addition, motets were often transcribed (Intavolatura) for keyboard and performed with diminutions during the Communion. However, none of these ideas was set in stone and undoubtedly varied widely. These appendices are further examples of music improvised on a daily basis, but it is also probable that a Mass improvised by one particular organist included written out works by contemporaries.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 06:02:27 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #61 on: October 16, 2018, 08:30:44 AM »


I have to say that I’ve not always got on very well with Loreggian’s style at the organ, which can sometimes feel a bit tough and unvaried. However this recording of Merulo’s Missa Virginia Mariae is one of the exceptions, maybe because of the quality of the chant, which really dominates the « performance », hence providing some relief. The organ at S. Caterina Treviso dates from 1998, it’s 1/4 comma meantone and it’s well enough recorded, maybe lacking a real sense of church ambience. I think it’s a great shame that more organ masses aren’t recorded with well restored old organs and I suspect that one reason why Cera’s Andrea Gabrieli’s mass really stands so much head and shoulders above the crowd is the excellent old organ, excellently recorded. Here we’re not at the same level.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 08:43:18 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #62 on: October 23, 2018, 06:39:27 AM »



This recording by Richard Lester contains masses by three composers, but today I’m focusing only on the one by Andrea Gabrieli, the Missa de Beata Virgine, which is given in a liturgical performance comme il faut. The organ music is exceptional -  long pieces which are closely connected to the chant, IMO they really benefit from this sort of presentation. I don’t have the booklet. There’s a review on musicweb which says the organ is by Giovanni Pradella in Bergamo, but in fact a brochure from an organ festival in the city says it’s a restoration of a genuine renaissance instrument tuned 1/4 comma meantone, unless I’m misreading

http://www.provincia.bergamo.it/provpordocs/libretto_eng.pdf
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2014/Jan14/Organ_masses_v1_NI5909.html

This makes, along with Francesco Cera’s CD, two satisfying recordings of Andrea Gabrielli masses.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 06:42:55 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #63 on: November 09, 2018, 06:42:23 AM »


Kei Koito plays the Nivers mass as if she thinks the music is more an object of cool headed aesthetic contemplation than an active force to move listeners. Up to now I’ve not found a way in, as it were.

Seeing this post again made me think of a comment that Benjamin Britten made

Quote from: Benjamin Britten on receiving the first Aspen Award, full text here http://www.aspenmusicfestival.com/benjamin-britten
For a musical experience needs three human beings at least. It requires a composer, a performer, and a listener; and unless these three take part together there is no musical experience.

just because this time round I really enjoyed Kei Koito's performance of the Nivers mass, and I'm the only thing that could have changed. The austerity of it seemed to me very attractive, though it wouldn't be if you approach it with expectations of classicism or of music inspired by Frescobaldi. It's as if Nivers was born too late, his art in the mass at least is the art of the 17th century, not the 18th -- it reminds me of the way Egarr reads Froberger, or Goeke reads Titelouze, or Weir reads Roberday.


I think Nivers is a very fine composer, I would go even further than these comments of Willi Apel on this

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Nivers is certainly not an extraordinary artistic personality, but he does not quite deserve the negative judgement applied to him by Pirro ("very mediocre") Frotscher ("hardly goes beyond mediocrity"), and others. Despite his obvious striving to please, he definitely keeps away from a too secular, song- or dance-like flavor, and though his pieces may no longer accord with today's ideas what is suitable for services, they nevertheless maintain dignity and a suitable posture. Quite apart from the question of suitability, most of them are interest* and quite attractive musically. Nivers avoids stereotyped turns or tiring repair tions, changes the length of the phrases, and occasionally inserts measures in 3/4 (as his contemporary Lully does). He writes lively melodies, gives sufficient consideration to the contrapuntal element, and last but not least observes a proper limitation of length. These features and others distinguish Nivers' organ pieces; it is regrettable that they can no longer be employed today.

Kei Koito on an excellent organ and excellently recorded, as always.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2018, 07:34:47 AM by Mandryka »
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