Masterpieces of Sacred Music.

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Identifying musical value-established masterpieces.

"The musical basis for this discussion" is focused on identifying the most significant masterpieces of the Sacred Music genre (not of the broader Choral Music genre), explaining or simply noting the reasons or certain aspects of the proposed works. I don't think that there is an actual issue to deal with "what distinguishes sacred music from other music", let alone on musical terms.

Camaron and Jane started a positive discussion on the actual basis of this thread.

Parla

Reply to #8.

Camaron, you are quite right about Frank Martin's Golgotha. It is definitely at least his masterpiece and a rarely performed but well-served in recordings work projecting the notable skills of the composer as a master of orchestral colours, surprising harmonic writing and a meditative expression that comes through a quite demanding output both for the performing forces as well as the most devoted audiences. It is notable that there are about ten recordings of this work, some of them quite interesting and noteworthy. The recording of HM with Esthonian and Dutch forces under Daniel Reuss is the most rewarding both as a deeply involved performance and as a superb production.

If Martin's Golgotha is an unjustly overlooked masterpiece of the past century deeply respecting the religious aspects of the Passion, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms is a well-known masterwork of 20th century, well performed and even better recorded, demonstrating a message of an ecumenical faith with Latin text and following a neoclassical compositional style. Stravinsky strips the work of any religious sentimentality and personal element of faith leading the message through an inspiring and original score.

Parla

positive identification

I am simply reminding that your "explanations or simply noting reasons or certain aspects of the proposed" have significant components with no musical value, possibly even the word "sacred" itself.

Having said that, I started listening to Golgotha (cond. Böck).

Happy listening tjh

Happy listening tjh

 

The Symphony of Psalms is indeed fantastic, one of Stravinsky’s best loved works post Rite. those who don’t know it yet might want to listen to his Cantata next, not a religious composition but, at least to me, close stylistically.  Stravinsky is usually not thought of as a religious composer, although he was very much so. It is maybe because he focused more on this aspect in his last years, the least known of his compositional periods. His mass, written in a somehow severe, late neoclassical style is beautiful.

 

Stravinsky managed to sound still like himself even when composing serial music. Threni, based in the Book of Lamentations, is often considered one of his greatest achievements as a composer. Fully a 12 notes composition, it shouldn’t put people off: the severity of the technique is fully transparent, what you get is pure Stravinsky. In a sense I find his (in)famous octet harder to digest. Finally his Requiem Canticles, in the same vein but more concentrated.

 

Frank Martin also composed his Mass for Double Choir, often considered another masterwork of contemporary choral music. I still need to get to know this one.

 

Jane, you forgot to mention the greatest of them all: Bach’s Mass in B minor. Also, assuming that the thread refers to post 1600 repertoire, lets not forget Monteverdis’ magnus Vespro della Beata Vergine.

Expanding the repertory period. Narrowing the choice.

Starting from your last paragraph, camaron, the thread refers to a period from at least Guillaume De Machaut and afterwards. I assumed we should mention his Messe de Nostre Dame as the first acknowledged and well-established masterpiece of Sacred Music, composed around 1360.

I guess Jane mentioned some of her favourite masterworks in this genre. Her list was not exclusive but indicative of her interest...apparently. However, the main thrust is to focus on the most rewarding and well respected/established masterpieces in this field (but not excluding any outsider, neglected, overlooked but significant works or..."revelation"). Bach's Mass in b minor is (one of) the greatest masterpieces of Sacred Music. However, the issue is, if one has to narrow the choice to one of the masterworks by Bach, which one he/she may choose. Likewise, with Mozart, Haydn or Stravinsky. 

In other words, in all these centuries of Sacred Music, can you name a couple of dozens of the most established masterpieces in this genre? Of course, along the way, one may mention any other work he/she considers as what could be in this prestigious list (e.g. like Martin's Golgotha).

Parla

camaron wrote: Jane, you

camaron wrote:

Jane, you forgot to mention the greatest of them all: Bach’s Mass in B minor. Also, assuming that the thread refers to post 1600 repertoire, lets not forget Monteverdis’ magnus Vespro della Beata Vergine.

Ha ha. No, I didn't forget. I didn't mention it because......... I don't know it well enough to talk about. I really don't know why this is. I love Bach and I have quite a few recordings of the mass. It just hasn't taken root, for some reason.

parla wrote: In other words,

parla wrote:

In other words, in all these centuries of Sacred Music, can you name a couple of dozens of the most established masterpieces in this genre? 

I don't quite understand the point of this, Parla. You are asking us to list the most "established" masterpieces? Surely, that is just a case of just looking up the most commonly recorded and performed pieces?

Well, just my little excuse

Well, just my little excuse to mention it myself! I have always found it incredibly telling how Mendelssohn, when restoring Bach’s figure, chose St Matthew Passion and not the Mass. After all it was the Mass, not the Passion, that Bach chose/created as a sort of testament to his powers as an artist, a compendium of his skills and achievements. But for Mendelssohn the fact that Bach was German was just as necessary and essential as the fact that he was a great and universal artist. We could think that his being German was in fact the whole point.

 

Sorry for the digression: I love the Mass, from the beginning to end, although I won’t usually sit through the whole thing. And the initial, tripartite Kyrie, is the only thing that comes close to St Mathew’s opening chorus. A feast.

 

Staying in the 20th Century. If Faure’s Requiem (and to an extent Brahms’ German Requiem) is the most perfect musical representation of one's inner peace with the idea of Death….is there a more terrific, horrific experience than Ligeti’s own Requiem, from 1965? How about that as a proof, if there ever was a need for one, that Art isn’t (just) about being pleasing, harmlessly beautiful. Just saying….

camaron wrote: I love the

camaron wrote:

I love the Mass, from the beginning to end, although I won’t usually sit through the whole thing. 

But is it "established"?

Any preferred recordings? For the mass (when I do occasional bits of listening) and many of the cantatas, I really enjoy the one voice per part versions.......

I think I must know a few sections of the Ligeti, if that is the piece - I think it is - featured on 2001........Not the kind of thing I can imagine listening to on its own. Rather harrowing, for my tastes. 

People might disagree, but to

People might disagree, but to me it is one of those pieces that can take any number of different approaches you care to through at it: I’ve listened (and enjoyed) versions by Celibidache all the way to Rifkin; fast, slow, slim or monumental, it will depend on my mood of the day. Hereweghe is a regular. There is an excellent live concert by Savall on youtube, which in a couple of occasions I’ve started playing and then had me hooked right to the end. Gardiner, Suzuki, Richter, Klemperer, Minkowski, and a long etc… Take you pick!

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