Scored modestly for soprano, four-part mixed choir, two violins, organ and bass, it is known as the Kleine Orgelmesse Little Organ Mass due to an extended organ solo in the Benedictus movement. Haydn composed four or five short masses, depending on the Missa brevis Rorate coeli desuper being composed by him or not. The Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo is his last missa brevis. All these short masses share a modest orchestra.
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While our modern image of Haydn tends to neglect his vocal compositions, they comprise a large part of his oeuvre—and sacred music in particular played a unique role in his musical development. Haydn showed vocal talent at an early age. Haydn received a well-rounded musical education at the church, learning keyboard, violin and composition in addition to singing.
Reutter laughed at my immature output, at measures that no throat and no instrument could have executed, and he scolded me for composing in sixteen parts before I understood two-part setting. Haydn was forced to leave the school when his voice broke, and at the juncture of this important transition composed his first authenticated Mass, the Missa brevis in F major Through the poet he met the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, whom he credited with teaching him the Italian singing style and manner of composition.
At the same time that the works illustrate his fluency with the vernacular of sacred music, however, the Masses display an inspiration and an originality that belong to Haydn alone. XXII:7; As in the Missa brevis in F, he shortens the lengthy Gloria and Credo sections by setting lines of text simultaneously. In other sections, however, Haydn replaces customary procedures with his own unique approach.
In the Benedictus the rhapsodic aria for solo soprano is accompanied by strings and obbligato organ, as in the Grosse Orgelsolomesse , logically prompting the nickname, Kleine Orgelsolomesse. A contemporary account of the first performance vividly illustrates the opulence of the nameday festivities:. At we saw the table in the Great Hall, fifty-four strong. A lot of toasts were drunk, which were always announced by trumpets and drums from the gallery and by the thunder of cannon in front of the Castle.
That evening there was a grand ball. After a slow introduction, Haydn proceeds through the entire textural gamut in the first statement of the Kyrie alone, redefining the counterpoint that historically concludes the second Kyrie as development material. He also uses changes in musical texture to add meaning not necessarily explicit in the words, as would have been expected.
A similar effect occurs in the Credo. In the Kyrie, for example, the main subject the melodic fragment that each voice gradually imitates of the fugue is based on musical material from the introduction, revealing a concern for large-scale coherence more typical of a symphony.
As well as inspiring form and melodic development, the instruments are vital to the mood of individual sections. Trumpets again punctuate the mention of the death of Christ, in the Credo. Norton and Company, , 4 Ibid. About this Recording 8. A contemporary account of the first performance vividly illustrates the opulence of the nameday festivities: At we saw the table in the Great Hall, fifty-four strong.
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Kleine Orgelmesse (Mass no. 7 in B-flat Major) (Joseph Haydn)