Mass in D major, opus 86
music by Antonin Dvo?ák, 1841- 1904
Commissioned by Josef Hlávka, a noted architect and founder of the Czech Academy of Sciences, for the 1887 consecration of the private chapel in his Luzany castle.
Dvo?ák had already set a number of liturgical texts on a grand scale, including the Stabat mater, when Hlávka requested a Mass for modest forces for the consecration of his family chapel.
Dvo?ák completed the Mass in June 1887 and at once wrote to Hlávka saying how delighted he was. He summed it up as a work of "faith, hope and love to Almighty God." "Do not wonder that I am so religious," he says, "but an artist who is not could not accomplish anything like this."
He reminded Hlávka that "so far I have only written works of this kind on a big scale and for large forces."
The consecration took place on September 11, 1887. The Mass was originally scored for four soloists, a small choir and a simple organ accompaniment. Dvo?ák conducted and the soloists were Hlávka's wife Zdenka, the composer's wife Anna, with Rudolf Huml and Otakar Schwenda. At the request of Novello and Co., Dvo?ák orchestrated the Mass and the orchestral version was first performed on March 11, 1893.
Magnificat I Nunc dimittis
music by James MacMillan, 1959-
Text from 1962 Book of Common Prayer
Magnificat was composed in 1999. The orchestral version was commissioned by the BBC for the first choral evensong of the new millennium on January 5, 2000, and first performed in Wells Cathedral by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra with the choirs of Wells Cathedral and St. John's College, Cambridge, conducted by the composer.
Nunc dimittis was composed in 2000 and commissioned, along with the organ version of Magnificat, by Winchester Cathedral and first performed on St. Swithun's Day, July 15, 2000.
From the composer
The choral writing in Magnificat is simple and homophonic, each phrase punctuated by an introspective instrumental echo. The music gradually builds to a joyous climax in the doxology.
The Nunc dimittis is based on similar material. Some of the organ interjections are audibly recognizable from the Magnificat, but the vocal lines have been modally altered. The principal feature of this movement is an unusual unison melody involving treble, alto and tenor voices, with the sesquialtera stop. Some of the climactic music from the Magnificat is recalled for the final Amen. The work opens and closes with quiet ethereal low notes on the organ and in the basses.
Music by Morten Lauridsen, 1943-
The chorus and chamber orchestra version, composed for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, premiered on April 13, 1997- The chorus and organ version was first performed on April 26- 27, 1997 by Choral Cross-Ties in Portland and by the Master Chorale at Loyola Marymount University. The work was commissioned by the Board of Governors of The Music Center, Inc., in honor of Shelton G. Stanfill. Translation by earthsongs.
Last performed by the Master Chorale on April 20, 2001, with Paul Salamunovich conducting.
From the composer
The work is in five movements played without pause. Its texts are drawn from sacred Latin sources, each containing references to Light. The piece opens and closes with the beginning and ending of the Requiem Mass, with the three central movements drawn, respectively, from the Te Deum (including a line from the Beatus Vir), O nata lux and Veni, Sancte Spiritus.
The instrumental introduction to the Introitus softly recalls motivic fragments from two pieces especially close to my heart (my settings of Rilke's Contre Qui, Rose and O Magnum Mysterium) which recur throughout the work in various forms. Several new themes in the Introitus are then introduced by the chorus, including an extended canon on et lux perpetua. In te, Domine, speravi contains, among other musical elements, the cantus firmus Herzliebster Jesu (from the Nuremberg Songbook, 1677) and a lengthy inverted canon on fiat misericordia. O nata lux and Veni, Sancte Spiritus are paired songs - the former the central a cappella motet, and the latter a spirited, jubilant canticle. A quiet setting of the Agnus Dei precedes the final Lux Aeterna, which reprises the opening section of the Introitus and concludes with a joyful Alleluia.