Thursday, February 10, 2011

Martin Mass for Double Choir

I've often thought that in a parallel universe that if ever I were to be ordained to some arch-episcopal seat (rest assured that's NEVER going to happen!) that the music would have to be suitably dramatic. The first I had heard of Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir was when James O'Donnell recorded it with Westminster Cathedral Choir, which surprised me a little bit because it demonstrated a little musical personality from O'Donnell, a man hardly noted amongst those who know him for exuberance.

The interesting thing about Martin is that you won't find a great deal of biography for him out there and his list of compositions, while adequate, is hardly voluminous. The mass was largely written in 1922 and then amended in 1926. I think I recall reading somewhere that he re-wrote a large section of the Agnus Dei and included parts of the Credo that had been omitted because he personally disagreed with the theology (though this being the interweb, if there are any Martin scholars reading this with a greater knowledge and appreciation of his music than I have and who would wish to correct me, please do so).

For me, being a bass, the spine-tingling moment comes in the Gloria about 2 mins 30 secs in with the pedal note under "Domine Deus". I'll leave you with the Kyrie and Gloria.